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Wine 'Detective' Testifies Against Alleged Counterfeiter

Photo: Romanée-Conti
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

The trial of wine collector/accused wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan — the man alleged with perpetuating "the biggest wine hoax in history" in selling over a million dollars worth of fake bottles — continues. The New York Post reports that "wine detective" Michael Egan testified yesterday that labels and bottles belonging to Kurniawan were fakes. In one stunning example, Egan — formerly of the Sotheby's wine department — demonstrated to the jury how a rare bottle of 1929 Roumier Bonnes-Mares had a fake label by pointing out a watermark that read "Concord." In Egan's research he discovered that Concord is the name of a printer made by a company from Indonesia (Kurniawan's home country) and testified: "I don't think a [vintage] Bordeaux or a Burgundy would be using a printer from a company that was only established in 1983."

Egan also testified that almost all of the wines seized from Kurniawan's Los Angeles home are fakes, Decanter reports. He offered a staggering statistic: "Since I started doing my fine-wine expert business, out of the thousands of bottles that I checked, I found that 1,433 are counterfeit and, of those, 1,077, or 75%, came from Rudy Kurniawan." Egan joins a long list of prominent wine industry folks who have testified against Kurniawan. Last week, top winemakers Laurent Ponsot of Domaine Ponsot, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's Aubert de Villaine, and Christophe Roumier of Domaine Georges Roumier were all witnesses for the prosecution. The prosecution has also offered evidence like photos of a "wine factory" in Kurniawan's home, so the defense has their work cut out for them.

· 'Fake label' exposed counterfeit wine [NYP]
· Kurniawan trial: Fine wine expert labels Rudy wines fakes [Decanter]
· All Rudy Kurniawan Coverage on Eater [-E-]