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Wednesday 1 July 2015

Wine company denies ‘fake wine’ allegations

23rd April, 2014 by Rupert Millar

The Antique Wine Company has responded to the news that a former client is taking it to court for apparently selling fake wine.

yquem 1787Yesterday’s headlines were dominated by the announcement that a US real-estate manager, Julian LeCraw, was suing AWC and its CEO Stephen Williams for selling him fake wine, including a bottle of 1787 Yquem for $100,000, and for non-payment of several million dollars worth of wine he had consigned to the company.

Williams issued a statement yesterday which said: “The Antique Wine Company strongly denies all the allegations made against it by Julian LeCraw.

“Our lawyers have been in correspondence with Mr LeCraw’s lawyers over these allegations for some months and have provided them with evidence to prove that the allegations made by them are unfounded. This evidence includes extensive information provided at the time of the sales to show the authenticity of the wines and subsequent documents verifying the original information.

“They have co-operated fully in connection with the consigned wines and have made proposals for resolution of this issue.

“The Antique Wine Company, since its inception in 1989, has supplied hundreds of bottles of highly valuable wine to customers around the world.  Ensuring the authenticity of these wines is paramount and they maintain extensive records proving traceability from the suppliers to the company and beyond including documents from chateaux and producers.

“The proceedings brought against The Antique Wine Company will be vigorously defended.”

A lawyer for LeCraw told to the drinks business that between November last year and March of this year LeCraw had tried to settle the matter privately and while it was reassuring to see AWC now say it was important to ensure the authentication of the wine they sold, it was “disappointing” to see Williams continue to claim the veracity of the bottles in question in the face of the evidence to the contrary.

He denied that at any time over those five months had AWC or Williams produced any “evidence to prove that the allegations made by them are unfounded.”

He added that all of the points central to the lawsuit could be found in the complaint that was filed, which can be seen in its entirety here.

4 Responses to “Wine company denies ‘fake wine’ allegations”

  1. Michael Dable says:

    I have know Stephen Williams all the years that he has been in the wine business, and have sold him considerable quantities of very mature wines. These charges against him and the Antique Wine Company will surely be defended vigorously by Stephen, and I for one am confident that the outcome will be successful for the Antique Wine Company!

  2. David Boyer says:

    This is the other leg that needs to be cut off at the knee and I’m very happy to see that the inevitable legal action has commenced. There are numerous retailers and auction houses that have been, or still are, complicit in the counterfeit wine world. The fact is that without these merchants and auctioneers, counterfeiters would have a much more difficult time getting their “Faux, Faux, Faux” wines to market – there would be no sales outlet for fakes other than a handful of private internet transactions. Buyers of collectible wines look for fine wine merchants and auction houses based on reputation and honesty, and in exchange, rightly expect to receive due diligence, an accurate assessment of provenance, and authentication of the vintage wines being sold or auctioned. When the seller is part of the scam to defraud a buyer, action must absolutely and unequivocally be taken against that seller.

    In the case of LeCraw v. The Antique Wine Company, it is clear that selling multiple bottles of fake wine was not merely an oversight by the ‘wine expert’ seller, but rather an all-out assault on the buyer. Beyond the civil judgment that should be handed down in favor of the plaintiff, prosecutors having jurisdiction surely should take the matter up and put these people behind bars for many years. I have no doubt that we will see more litigation against the purveyors of counterfeit wines, not just the Rudy’s of the world.

    Bravo to Mr LeCraw for taking a stand!

    David Boyer

    • Paul Moe says:

      Did I miss the trial and verdict? When was The Antique Wince Company adjudicated “guilty”? I dunno, something to do with a horse and a cart.

  3. Jay Francis says:

    About 12 years ago, I started to purchase old Bordeaux from New York auction houses. One lot, when examined, I noticed that the vintage looked like it was typed on with a type writer. I thought that perhaps the domaine had used blank labels that they used in cases where they ran out of a particular vinage – who knows. But before I handed over my credit card, I called the domain in question. Luckily, I spoke French and managed to speak to someone with definitive knowledge on the subject. He stated emphatically, that at no time did the domain hand type vintages on labels. That this label did not come from them. I brought this up with the wine auctioneer and pointed out that the lot description did not mention unauthentic labels. They cancelled the sale. Although, I was not out much, just the cost of a phone call, it did sour my feelings about wine auctions. I no longer buy old wine. I buy wine, and let it get old in my cellar. Buyer beware.

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