What it Takes to Out-Sleuth A Wine Fraud

In my book, “Death on the Vine,” I discuss the magnitude of wine counterfeiting. On April 7, 2018 I received my copy of The Wall Street Journal and came upon an article directly dealing with what my book is all about except for the murder, romance, and roses.

Just a few weeks ago the French police discovered a large cache of fake Cotes du Rhone wine…but it was all fake. It was bulk stuff of no particular distinction, and the CEO of the company was charged with fraud. This was just the latest in a long series of such discoveries in recent years, and further proof that counterfeiters target cheap wines just as readily as grand crush.

The name Domaine Ponsot will ring a bell with those who follow wine-fraud news. In a story made famous by the documentary ‘Sour Grapes’ the domain’s proprietor, Laurent Ponsot, attend a 2008 wine auction in New York where fake bottles of Ponsot wines were offered for sale. The consignor was Rudy Kurniawan, a high-profile collector from California.

An investigation into Mr. Kuriawan’s dealings culminated in a search of his Arcadia, California home, which turned out to be filled with the tools of wine fakery: counterfeit labels, blank corks and empty bottles to be filled. Mr. Kurniawan went on trial in New York for Counterfeiting and was convicted in 2014. He was ordered to pay 28.4 million in restitution to seven of his victims and to forfeit 20 million in property, and is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison.

If you want to learn more about authenticating the wine you’re buying, check out my book and have an unforgettable read and a glass of wine on me.

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