A vintage year for fine wine con artists

An FBI agent recently showed Arnaud de Laforcade a file with several labels supposedly from 1947 bottles of Château Cheval Blanc, one of France’s finest wines. To the Saint-Emilion vineyard’s CFO, they were clearly fakes – too new-looking, not on the right kind of paper.

The counterfeiter had ambition: 1947 is considered an exceptionally good year, and Cheval Blanc’s production that year has been called the greatest Bordeaux ever.

The average price paid for a bottle at auction is about $11500, according to truebottle.com.

“I think it’s pretty obvious to everybody that there is a large amount of counterfeit wine [purporting to be] from the top wineries,” said Leonardo LoCascio, founder of Winebow, a US wine importer.

On the front lines of the fight against counterfeiters is a laboratory run by the French Finance Ministry in Bordeaux devoted to sniffing out fake wine.

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