- Rare-wine collectors are savvy, competitive guys with a taste for impossible finds. The biggest hoax in history took place right under their noses.
From New York:
Even at Rudy Kurniawan's coming-out party in September 2003, there were questionable bottles of wine.
A score of Southern California’s biggest grape nuts had gathered at the restaurant Melisse in Santa Monica that Friday for a $4,800-a-head vertical tasting of irresistible rarities provided by Kurniawan: Pétrus in a dozen vintages, reaching as far back as 1921, in magnums.
Paul Wasserman, the son of prominent Burgundy importer Becky Wasserman, is something like wine royalty, but before this event, the oldest Pétrus he had tasted was from 1975.
Nonetheless, two bottles left him scratching his head. The 1947 lacked the unctuousness of right-bank Bordeaux from that legendary vintage, and the 1961 struck him as “very young.” He briefly entertained the idea of “possible fakes”—’61 Pétrus in magnum has fetched up to $28,440 at auction—and jotted, in his notes on the ’47, “If there’s one bottle I have serious doubts about tonight, this is it.”
But in the rare-wine world, doubts are endemic; murkiness is built into a product that is concealed by tinted glass and banded wooden cases and opaque provenance and the fog of history.
Guests at tastings don’t want to bite the hand that quenches them. Auctioneers may not want to risk losing consignments by nitpicking ambiguous bottles. Winemakers don’t like to talk about counterfeiting, for fear of the taint. Also, one thing not high on the FBI’s list of investigative priorities: billionaires getting snowed by wine forgers.
For more, see: Château Sucker