Wine fraud

As a wine enthusiast, it rather saddened me reading an article by Jeni Port in today's "Epicure" section in The Age on the discovery of counterfeited Australian wines in China.  The full article doesn't seem to be online, but here is a shortened version of it:  The full article also referred to counterfeit Yarra Valley wine, and the discovery in a Chinese wine retailer of "row upon row" of pristine Bordeaux from all of the great names, with uniform bottles, perfect labels and fill levels, from all of the great years (1982, 1989 etc). 

While a wine labelled as "Benfolds" would make it a fairly easy, and possibly humorous exercise, to spot the fake, I have the sinking feeling that many copies would be very hard to detect indeed and probably impossible if those responsible applied their minds to it.  And given the amounts of money involved, a lot probably have.  No doubt someone very clever will come up with a technological solution.  But in the interim, it would seem that vigilance and dealing only with trusted suppliers are the most practicable precautionary measures.
Wine Thoughts
August 24, 2010


Red said…
Having lived in Shanghai for 5 years a while back it's not surprise to see something like this happen. Fake consumer goods of all kinds can be found there. The difference in this case is that the fakes of other goods can often be pretty decent quality. I'd imagine the fake "Benfolds" and the like will taste like rubbish
I really hope these wines would be quite easily detectable as fakes upon tasting, or able to be tested in a lab. My fear is that skill in replicating labels and bottles (apparently not demonstrated by the "Benfolds" wines, but maybe with trophy wines where the prices are higher) would be matched by skills in substituting cheaper but not implausible substitute wines (eg a lesser vintage of the same producer, or the same varietal from a lesser producer or a different country). Though I am far less experienced with counterfeits, so perhaps I give too much credit ...

Chris Plummer said…
Heard a radio interview with Emanuel Skorpos (Australian winemaker caught up in the scandal) yesterday, who went over to China to investigate for himself. Although not 100% positive (all the bottles he bought back himself are still sealed) he was under the belief that Chinese wineries were buying in 'bulk' Australian wine, then blending it with locally made wines.

I know Penfolds are into cross-regional blending, but I've never heard of anything combining Australia with China in their range!
Hmm, sounds then like a considered counterfeit in that case. An unfortunate development, though I suspect I'm being naive thinking this sort of thing is new ...

Nick said…
I agree with you Sean that counterfeit wines are going to be very hard to spot in China . . . and we are going to see an awful lot more of them as time progresses!

Excellent blog by the way - I have taken the liberty of linking to you from mine :-)


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