Three arrested over 11,000 fake Tignanello bottles

Authorities in Florence and Cremona have arrested three people following the discovery of 11,000 fake bottles of Super Tuscan wines, fraudulently labelled as Antinori Tignanello.

The fake bottles were labelled as 2009, 2010 and 2011 vintages, but were discovered before being distributed.

According to Italian media reports, police have arrested three suspects: Matteo Fazzi, 31; Maria Alessandra Morini, 57; and Sergio Papa, 54, with at least six more individuals currently under investigation.

Fazzi is said to be in custody, while Morini and Papa are under house arrest.

The trio stand accused of creating copycat labels and packaging of Tignanello and filling bottles with low quality wine of unknown origin, with the intention of targeting Italy and markets abroad, particularly Belgium and Germany.

The fraud was uncovered by the Parma Public Prosecutor and Italy’s national police in Florence and Cremona, who were able to prevent the fake wine from being distributed having traced the purchase of bulk corks and printing paraphernalia to the accused.

The labels were reported to have been produced in China, which were identical to the Tignanello original, albeit with a typo of “alditudine” instead of “altitudine” (altitude).

Other printing requests were traced to Parma, with at least four companies believed to be involved in producing packaging for the fakes.

Speaking to Wine Spectator, Alessia Antinori, vice president of Marchesi Antinori, said the fakes were labeled as 2009, 2010, and 2011 Tignanello.

From the 2013 vintage, the producer has placed an embossed logo on the bottle in a bid to combat counterfeiting, which was extended to the Tignanello lettering from the 2015 vintage onward. A smaller label on bottles has also been used since 2016 in an effort to distinguish genuine from fake bottles.

At around £90 a bottle, according to Wine Searcher, the 11,000 fake bottles of Tignanello could have been worth around £1 million on the open market.

Italy has had its fair share of scandal of late, with many of the biggest European wine fraud rings appearing to have roots in the country.

In 2014, police in Sienna seized 160,000 litres of Tuscan wines labelled falsely as Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino worth an estimated €5 million.

In 2016, Italian police seized over 9,000 bottles of fake Moët & Chandon Champagne from a shed in the countryside near Padua in northern Italy worth an estimated €350,000 (£266,534). Police also found 40,000 fabricated Moët & Chandon labels in the shed, where eight people with “long criminal records” were working on the counterfeits.

2 Responses to “Three arrested over 11,000 fake Tignanello bottles”

  1. Claire C says:

    Dear Drinks Business,

    Working in the Wine Industry myself, I found the above article very interesting, but I believe the typo was in fact “alditudine” instead of “altitudine’ ?

    With best wishes,
    An Italian Wine Enthusiast!

  2. Good job! Its good to see they caught them before it went into the hands of the consumer

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