Monday, March 12, 2007

Counterfeiting: Not just an issue for handbags, watches and cigars anymore

After reading an article written by Elin McCoy of Bloomberg, I felt I just had to write this post. The article, entitled "Wine industry fights back against counterfeiters," discusses the increasing prevalence of wine counterfeiting. While I have seen an increasing number of buyer-beware warnings on wine auction sites, I had no idea that it was such an issue. We are all accustomed to the counterfeiting of ladies handbags, expensive men's watches, and even fine Cuban cigars...in fact, some of us may have even knowingly purchased these kinds of "fakes." However, wine counterfeits have become an issue of concern, and not just for collectors...the FBI has a number of pending investigations into some high-profile auction houses regarding possible wine counterfeits. Of course, thieves are not counterfeiting your everyday wine, but they are getting creative with some of the more prized bottles and vintages.

Though few in the auction houses, retailers and chateaus want to talk about the problem, it has been on the minds of winery owners as well as the French government. And they are trying to do something about it.

In May 2004, France's official printing company Imprimerie Nationale set up a commission to fight counterfeiting in every field. Its study showed counterfeits accounted for about 9 percent of the global economy. In fact, it has been said that in China and Vietnam, you find more counterfeit than authentic bottles.

Starting with the 2005 vintage, all wine bottles that travel outside France must be traceable, according to a new regulation. Meanwhile, it may become easier to determine which bottles are fakes in the future because more top chateaus are taking steps to protect the authenticity of what is in the bottle. Christian Moueix, head of Chateau Petrus and one of the first to speak out about the issue a decade ago, tackles the problem by using high-tech labels and engravings on the bottle. At Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, steps include etching the name of the estate in the glass at the bottom of the bottle.

Anyway, to read the full article, please click here. I just found it interesting that wine counterfeiting is an issue that so few are aware of. And I wanted to shed some light on the subject.

1 comment:

Sergeant-At-Arms said...

Yes, I have heard of this as well. There was a great story about it on NPR's Morning Edition about a month ago. Scary stuff since some bottles are worth five figures.