In Vino Duplicitas
March 19, 2019 12:43 PM - by Peter Hellman - Subscribe

Few gain entry to the privileged world of ultrafine wines, where billionaires flock to exclusive auction houses to vie for the scarce surviving bottles from truly legendary years. But Rudy Kurniawan, an unknown twenty-something from Indonesia, was blessed with two gifts that opened doors: a virtuoso palate for wine tasting, and access to a seemingly limitless (if mysterious) supply of the world’s most coveted wines. After bursting onto the scene in 2002, Kurniawan quickly became the leading purveyor of rare wines to the American elite. But in April 2008, his lots of Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis red burgundy—dating as far back as 1945—were abruptly pulled from auction. The problem? The winemaker was certain that this particular burgundy was first produced only in 1982...

Journalist Peter Hellman was there, and he would closely investigate as a singular cast of characters—including a Kansas-born billionaire and self-proclaimed “hoarder,” a dignified Burgundian winemaker, a wine-loving young prosecutor, and a crusty FBI agent who prepared for the case by reading French Wine for Dummies—worked to unravel the biggest con in wine history. Whether driven by the love of wine or of justice, all were asking the same question: Was the mild-mannered Kurniawan himself a dupe? Or had one young man—with little experience and few connections—ensnared the world’s top winemakers, sellers, and drinkers in a web of deceit?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (1 comment total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Here's the fpp on the subject from 2012. This story is wild. The sheer effort that went into the fraud is astonishing, to the point where you wonder why Kurniawan went into fraud as he clearly had the brains for... anything else he wanted to do in life. The author of the book is a renowned wine journalist who knew quite a few of the players in this story as the chaos unfolded. One of the dupes was a Koch! It's a hell of ride from start to finish, and you'll never look at wine the same way again.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:48 PM on March 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

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