American auction house Acker Merrall & Condit is facing a new accusation regarding the sale of supposedly counterfeit Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) La Tâche 1967 and 1960 at its March 25 auction held at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong, after fine wine authentication expert Maureen Downey posted a comment alerting dbHK about the authenticity concerns surrounding some lots.
Lot 72-78 in Acker’s March 25 Hong Kong auction. The 1967 La Tâche on the bottom left has a capsule that says ‘La Tâche’ whereas Wineberserker users argued the capsule should have ‘Mise du Domaine’ written there instead. The 1960 next to the 1967 bottle is alleged to have an unusually long capsule and white print.
In the catalogue photos for lots 72-78, the 1967 DRC La Tâche has a capsule that reads “La Tache”. Soren R Nielsen, a user on wineberserkers.com, flagged up the bottle first, claiming that the capsule should have written “Mise du Domaine” instead, adding that the wine label also has the dark green, non-centred “Appellation La Tâche Controlée” drifting to the right (see picture above).
American lawyer Don Cornwell in a reply to Nielsen, agreed that the capsule was wrong and said the only way a vineyard branded capsule is used is if, “it was recorked at the domaine after 1977 or was a late release from the domaine” while noting that it shouldn’t have the low-fill level as the catalogue photo shows and it would also have the neck label that is missing in the photo above.
In addition, Cornwell pointed out the shade of green allegedly did not match others that he’s seen. Judging by these suspected mismatches, Cornwell concluded that the 1967 La Tâche, “is clearly presumptively fake”.
The wine description found in Acker’s catalogue simply reads “illegible vintage branding, believed to be 1967”. Its price was estimated between HK$7,200 and HK$9,600 (US$900 to US$1,200).
Regarding the 1960 La Tâche, Cornwell also noted the unusually long capsule and its white print, saying that the print should be a white-grey colour instead. The 1960 La Tâche lot is also branded by the lawyer as “presumptively fake”.
In the same catalogue, Nielsen also queried lot 207 on the basis that the 2009 Roumier’s initial letter ‘R’ in “Domaine G. Roumier” is written above letter ‘G’ in Musigny, while noting in most cases ‘R’ is above the letter ‘N’ in Musigny.
Comparing 2009 Roumier sold in Spectrum and Hart Davis Hart auctions with the one found in Acker, Cornwell agreed and said “2009 Roumier Bonnes Mares from Acker would appear to be counterfeit”.
In addition, Cornwell went on to flag up more dubious lots including 1959 Latour, 2002 D’Angerville Clos de Ducs, 1966 Vogüé Bonnes Mares, 1996 Leoville Les Cases Imperial and 1996 Rousseau Beze magnum from the March Hong Kong auction.
dbHK has contacted Acker for comments regarding the accusations, but as yet, there has been no response.
UPDATE (19/04/2017): Don Cornwell has revised his opinion on the 2009 Roumier Bonnes Mares and stated the following on wineberserkers.com:
“I spent some time yesterday in my commercial storage digging out my 2009 Roumier bottles for examination. I own 2009 Roumier Bonnes Mares that was purchased in the US and came from the Diageo release in New York and bottles that were purchased from one of the Domaine’s authorized distributors in Europe. Yes, the Diageo bottles offered for sale in the US have “Product of France” on the label and the alignment of the text below “Domaine G. Roumier” is different on the Diageo label. The labels on the 2009 Roumier Bonnes Mares in the Acker auction appear to match my Diageo bottles, so it does not appear that the 2009 Roumier Bonnes Mares bottles in the Acker auction are counterfeit.”