Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Tale of Ancient Counterfeiting and Is Fraud Changing Today's Wine Culture?

Wine counterfeiting continues to dominate the news, at least in the wine world. The whole Rudy Kurniawan thing has captured much more attention than anything since the bottle of Chateau Lafitte purchased by a member of the Forbes family that was supposed to have come from Thomas Jefferson's cellar. (See some of my earlier posts, Wine Fraud and Lessons for You and More on Counterfeiting and Foiling Counterfeiters).
Even I was shocked to see this post by Steve Heimoff about a writing from Cato the Elder on how to make grapes taste similar to a more specific and (I assume) better wine. Although this seems less like counterfeiting and more like trying to make a Philly Cheesesteak or Shrimp Po-Boy in a place they are not native, it does seem to be on a large enough scale that perhaps there were nefarious goals.
At any rate, the problem has existed for a long, long time and is unlikely to disappear while insane premiums are being paid for select bottles.
The other article that caught my eye today was about the effect this publicity has had on some people's impression of the wine world. I have always enjoyed tasting older wine and share my experiences here often because they are unique and maybe you have an old wine you should drink. Perhaps it's to demonstrate that while older wines are potentially rewarding, many disappoint. The takeaway, I hope, is to enjoy what you can and share with friends and family. I do not desire to brag or one up anyone.
Mike Steinberger, writing on Wine-Searcher, wrote Rudy, Fraud and Wine Snobs and it is worth a few minutes of your time. In case you don't click right away, here is a sample:
"In the wake of Kurniawan’s arrest and conviction, however, all those blowout dinners don’t seem nearly so inviting. It turns out that, really, the only thing the rest of us were missing was the opportunity to drink fake wines and to be publicly humiliated when the truth was revealed."
Great sentiment and amusing takeaway! My mantra has always been that trophy wines are for people who are unsure of themselves and have more cents than sense. A $20 wine can be twice as good as a $10 one but a $1,000 bottle of wine can not be 100 times better. So, the reward per dollar spent decreases exponentially as you climb higher and higher into the rarities market. I rarely buy Burgundy anymore but I never stopped buying Cru Beaujolais: they are reasonably priced, complex and interesting, they do not require patience and are much easier to find...Mike Steinberger echoes that sentiment.
If you do too, keep coming back for wine sanity, always available right here.

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