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Sunday 5 July 2015

AWC further defends authenticity of wines

25th April, 2014 by Rupert Millar

The Antique Wine Company has issued a further statement defending the authenticity of a number of wines now claimed to be fakes.

yquem 1787The company declared: “The Antique Wine Company finds it necessary to emphasise that it duly researched the provenance of the wines it supplied and fully disclosed that information to Julian LeCraw Jr. at the time of his various purchases.”

Earlier this week, an American businessman, Julian LeCraw, filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that a number of rare vintages he had bought from AWC in 2006 and 2007 were actually fakes.

One bottle in particular, a 1787 vintage of Château d’Yquem which was bought for close to $100,000, has received the bulk of media attentions.

LeCraw is seeking $25 million dollars in damages, which also includes compensation for wines he said he consigned to AWC and for which he hasn’t been paid.

AWC has addressed the issue of each wine separately in its new statement.

For the 1787 Yquem it says that research into the provenance of the wine included a letter from the cellarmaster in 1995 which “described the bottle and confirmed that the chateau cellarmaster had re-corked and relabelled it, and which set out some detail revealing the chateau’s recollection of its previous ownership.”

The description “matches the unique physical appearance of the bottle sold to Mr. LeCraw.”

The letter was apparently verified by Comte Alexandre de Lur Saluces “recently” and the evidence presented to LeCraw’s lawyers.

The back label on a bottle of 1847 Yquem is likewise defended. It apparently reads: “October 2007.

This bottle of Chateau d’Yquem bears the original wax seal dated 1847, and at some time during its life it appears to have been re-corked by the Lur Saluces family, owners of Chateau d’Yquem during the entire 20th Century.

In October 2007 the bottle was examined by Comte Alexandre Lur Saluces. He reported that the entire 1847 production was sold to the Cruse family Negotiant Company.This fact was confirmed by M. Lionel CRUSE who also examined the bottle and reported that the crop was bottled in their Bordeaux cellars and mainly sold in Russia and Scandinavia. Export documents indicate the Imperial House of Romanov in Saint Petersberg to have acquired the majority of the production.This bottle is an exact match to two bottles that remain in the cellars of the Cruse family in Bordeaux.”

LeCraw’s complaint points out that Comte Lur Saluces left Yquem in 2004 but AWC claims the bottle was inspected by him in 2007 at his home at Château de Fargues.

Finally, with regards several vintages of 18th and 19th century Lafite, AWC says it has copies of correspondence between former director of Domaines Baron de Rothschild, Yves Le Canu, and the former owner of the wine in 1983 which are arrangements for the bottles to be recorked and reconditioned.

The paper apparently bears the five arrow logo which AWC says shows it was used by DBR prior to 1988 – LeCraw’s complaint alleges it was not.

A lawyer for LeCraw recently told the drinks business that AWC had failed to produce, “any evidence to prove that the allegations made by them are unfounded,” in nearly five months of legal negotiations before the lawsuit was brought this month.

The matter is now before the courts.

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