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Alleged Wine Counterfeiter Stands Trial for Selling Millions in Fake Bottles

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It's been almost two years since wine collector/accused wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan was arrested for allegedly perpetuating "the biggest wine hoax in history," and now Kurniawan is standing trial in a federal court in New York City. The Wall Street Journal reports that Kurniawan is charged with mail fraud "for allegedly creating and trying to sell counterfeit wine" and with wire fraud for "allegedly using counterfeit wine as collateral to secure a $3 million loan." Back in 2012, Kurniawan was busted for earning millions of dollars selling fake wines, which prosecutors will attempt to prove were created and bottled by Kurniawan in his Los Angeles home. Wine Spectator reports the FBI found labels for "iconic wines" and instructions for counterfeiting there back in the 2012 investigation.

This trial — which began yesterday — marks the first time the US government has tried someone for counterfeiting wine, according to Wine Spectator. Prominent wine producers are expected to testify in the trial that Kurniawan's bottles were fakes, including Laurent Ponsot of Domaine Ponsot, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's Aubert de Villaine, and Christophe Roumier of Domaine Georges Roumier. Kurniawan's defense attorney tells Wine Spectator that his client is a victim of the prevalence of counterfeiting, saying: "There were a lot of counterfeits in the market, and these rich collectors kept selling them from person to person." So stay tuned for a defense based around the idea that Kurniawan just didn't know he was selling bad bottles.

· In Manhattan, Fraud Trial Starts for California Wine Collector [WSJ]
· Accused Wine Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan Goes on Trial [WS]
· All Wine Coverage on Eater [-E-]