Imposter French Wine Bottlings on the Rise
Wine experts call on Bordeaux châteaux to take action on fakes.
A bottle of Château Pétrus 1982 Magnum deemed counterfeit by the Antique Wine Company. The counterfeit was spotted before it was offered out to any client. The magnum on the left is the counterfeit, the magnum on the right is a genuine example. In this example, discrepancies can be seen in the background and in the image of St Peter. Photo source: Antique Wine Company.
There are ample warnings that more and more fake wines are in circulation, particularly of top Bordeaux wines, but the châteaux are reluctant to take legal action, stating it is not their problem.
Despite warnings that wine fakes are increasing, Bordeaux châteaux are reluctant to take legal action to protect their brands. It is impossible to estimate the number of fakes in circulation, but experts say there are more and more, with potential values of millions of euro/dollars.
U.S. wine critic Robert Parker has said he would "not be surprised if a lot of what's in the cellars of big collectors turns out to be fakes."
Asked what action they are taking, top Bordeaux châteaux point to new security measures, including secret codes engraved on bottles and watermarks on labels, but say fakes are not their problem.
"Fakes do not concern the châteaux," says Francis Mayeur, director of Château d'Yquem, a first growth Bordeaux
|A close up of the two bottles of Château Pétrus 1982 Magnum. The grapes on the left belong to the counterfeit bottle. Photo source: Antique Wine Company.|
Fakes are "not our problem," says Christophe Salin, director of Château Lafite, another first growth Bordeaux wine that has been faked.
Asked what châteaux should do, expert wine consultants Alex de Clouet and Gilles de Pontavice, both based in France, say systematic legal action must be taken. "But châteaux don't like it. They fear the negative publicity will affect sales of real bottles," says de Clouet.
Pontavice, who also runs a Web site providing advice on wines bought at auction, says he now receives two to three queries a week about fake wines.
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