Top 10 wine scandals17th August, 2011 by Rupert Millar
Scams and scandals, frauds and fakes, the wine trade is no stranger to a bit of dodgy practice.
In July’s edition of the drinks business, Tom Bruce-Gardyne, writing on wine fraud, said: “The sweet scent of deception permeates the wine trade from tip to toe.”
From the wrong wine in the right bottle, to dodgy labelling, to the addition of less than desirable ingredients, wine fraud and the scandal that inevitably follows it have never been far from centre-stage in the wine world.
Anything between £150 million and £200m is estimated to have been blown on dodgy drinks investments since 1993. It has even been suggested that more 1945 Bordeaux has been sold than was even made in that vintage.
Not that it’s a new phenomenon. Pliny the Elder is said to have complained that even the Roman aristocracy could never be entirely sure if the wine they were being served was true Falernian wine and not some cheap knock-off found round the back of the forum.
Meanwhile in medieval Germany, those convicted of wine fraud could be punished by branding, beating or even a grisly and protracted death by hanging.
But, while some of the following cases can perhaps be viewed as a bit of jolly skulduggery, with only some slightly out-of-pocket billionaires as collateral, quite a few have equally tipped over into a more unpleasant realm of knavery.
- 1. The Jefferson Bottles – 1985 – present
- 2. Brunello di Montalcino – 2008
- 3. Red Bicyclette – 2010
- 4. Georges Duboeuf – 2005
- 5. Austria and antifreeze – 1985
- 8. Italian methanol scandal – 1986
- 7. Dishonest blending practices in Bordeaux – 19th century
- 8. Champagne investment scam – 1997
- 9. Rhône producer accused by daughter – 2010
- 10. Fake Mont Tauch in China – 2007 – 2010