French police break up vintage 'wine scam'
A scam in which fake bottles of top quality French wine were sold has been uncovered by French police. They believe that the fraudsters have made around £1.7m/2m Euros from their dealings.
They were relabelling bottles of poor quality wine as Romanee-Conti, one of the world's most rarefied and expensive wines which has vintages that need decades to mature. They are suspected of selling at least 400 fake bottles and probably more at up to £7,000 per bottle over a period of some years. It is believed that many wine connoisseurs have been fooled by this scam.
The fraudsters had produced counterfeit labels made to look older with wax and the final result was an almost perfect copy of the genuine article.
Earlier this year the vineyard in Burgundy became suspicious that there were inferior copies available and French police from Dijon started the investigation in March. The scam was exposed following an investigation involving specialist officers working for six different police forces across Europe including Italy and the UK.
Two Italian wine merchants, a father and son, have been arrested in Italy and France has applied for their extradition. Others have been arrested and questioned and Dijon prosecutor, Marie-Christine Tarrare, said: "Other suspects are being sought so that we can present this entire counterfeiting network in evidence."
Only about 3,500 bottles of Romanee-Conti are produced each year making it highly sought after. Three bottles of the 1990 vintage were sold at auction earlier this year for over £14,000 each making it the most expensive Burgundy in the world.