This is a problem that goes back a long way in the past, but has increased enormously in recent years with the exorbitant auction prices.
Thus, great caution must be exercised when buying old bottles, for example, from Château Petrus and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. For example, it is not known whether Petrus actually bottled large formats before 1945. Because of the numerous merchant bottlings, no certain characteristics exist for the authenticity of particularly old bottles. And numerous wealthy wine collectors lack the relevant expertise. It was once common practice to sell barrels to merchants, who then bottled the wine themselves.
The wines of the Châteaus Pétrus and Lafite as well as the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and great Burgundies are among the most expensive and are therefore also the focus of numerous counterfeiters to make large profits. Bottles from the "right" vintages are often more than ten times as expensive as a "small" vintage.
By replacing the label, a bottle of the "real" château becomes worth much more and is also difficult to distinguish. There is generally enormous uncertainty about the appearance of old and extremely rare bottles. To an even greater extent, it is unclear how they taste. Even experts are at risk of not being able to identify fakes with certainty. And even the owners of the wineries often have to study the label very closely.
For example, it was very easy for Laurent Ponsot of Burgundy to spot fakes. He flew to New York in 2009 to take 22 significant lots of wines from his domaine off the market. He knew that some bottles were fakes because some vintages were not produced by his grandfather. So he traced the counterfeiters to Asia. Ponsot's wines are among the best of the Côte d'Or. The all-defining accents are on small yields of fully ripe grapes, on finesse and silky textures.
Fakes are only significant from a magnitude of about 1000 euros per bottle, but even here rather unsuspicious specimens exist. Château Mouton Rothschild dealt with the problem in earlier vintages by marking bottles with consecutive numbers. Recently, it has also been possible to check on a website, for a fee, whether the same number is already stored in another wine cellar. In addition, all producers are pushing ahead with protection against counterfeiting by means of elaborately designed labels, three-dimensional features in the labels, and invisible markers.
Author: lehener. Translation. Image: Quadronet_Webdesign / pixabay.