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Thursday 17 April 2014

Kurniawan’s house was a ‘wine factory’

12th December, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

As the trial of alleged wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan continues, FBI agent James Wayne told the court on Wednesday that his entire house was a “wine factory”.

Dressed in a grey suit, Rudy Kurniawan sat expressionless in court. Credit: Jane Rosenberg/New York Daily News

Dressed in a grey suit, Rudy Kurniawan sat expressionless in court. Credit: Jane Rosenberg/New York Daily News

According to AFP, Wayne, who carried out the search of Kurniawan’s LA home during his March 2012 arrest, added that the temperature of the house was kept “very low” and one of the rooms was refrigerated.

Conducting the search, Wayne found bottles all over the kitchen, drawers stuffed with corks and labels, and crates of wine in the dining room.

During yesterday’s court hearing in New York, the 12-member jury was shown six notebooks in which Kurniawan wrote comments on wine blending formulae.

Fine wine labels found during the FBI search of Kurniawan’s home

The jury was also told about an email purportedly sent by Kurniawan to a New York restaurant on 23 October 2006 asking them to send the empty bottles of the fine wine he drank and a follow-up email in which he complained that “all but two” were broken.

“Don’t wash them, as they need them to look original for a photo shoot,” he allegedly wrote in the first email to the restaurant.

Laurent Ponsot of Domaine Ponsot in Burgundy had been expected to take the witness stand yesterday but his testimony was delayed until today (Thursday).

Ponsot first encountered Kurniawan in April 2008, when 97 bottles of Domaine Ponsot belonging to Kurniawan were withdrawn at the last minute from an Acker, Merrall & Condit auction at Cru restaurant in New York.

Among the lots was a bottle of 1929 Ponsot Clos de la Roche, a grand cru the domaine didn’t produce under its own label until 1934, and 38 bottles of Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis dating back to 1945, despite the estate not making the wine until 1982.

The defence has portrayed Indonesian-born Kurniawan as an “outsider” keen to belong to a group of rich, successful fine wine lovers in the US.

The 37-year-old, who has been living illegally in the US for a decade, faces up to 40 years in jail if convicted.

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