The Moment A Diner Sent Back A $36,000 Bottle Of Wine For Being ..FAKE !

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  1. 8th February 2008

    The £18,000 Petrus: But is it real?

    It was a moment to make the most experienced sommelier gasp with horror.

    Normally when a favoured wealthy customer orders a magnum of Pétrus 1961, appreciative purrs of pleasure are expected to follow.
    Not just from the drinkers. There will be a profit of several thousand pounds on a bottle costing as much as a large family car.
    But this time the usually exquisite claret was returned untasted with angry accusations that it was a fake.
    This was the hugely embarrassing scene at the Michelin-starred Zafferano in Knightsbridge earlier this month when a party of British and Italian diners asked for the 1961 — regarded as one of the finest wines ever made — to go with their meal.
    At £18,000 it was among the most expensive bottles on the wine list, described by one reviewer as 'awesome in its density, richness and concentration'.
    But the customer refused to touch it because the cork was not stamped with the standard mark of provenance proving where and when it was made.
    Zafferano's general manager Enzo Cassini admitted it was an awkward and unprecedented situation.
    "Yes, the customer was cross. He had a problem because when he saw that there was no mark on the cork he didn't want to drink it any more. He said: 'this could be a fake.'
    Red-faced: Enzo Cassini will no longer stock hugely expensive wines at Michelin-starred Zafferano
    "The bottle was perfect, there was nothing to think it wasn't genuine. I tasted the wine and it was off anyway. It was a big disappointment for the customer because he had brought over a friend from Italy.
    "We have had to write off the Pétrus. As they say, stuff happens."
    But the restaurant was so alarmed by the possibility that it was the victim of a fraud that it called in the 'Pétrus police' from Corney & Barrow, an upmarket City wine bar chain who also act as agents for Pétrus n Britain.
    The company has accumulated photographic records of every surviving bottle still stored at the 28-acre vineyard to counter the growing phenomenon of wine fraud.
    The allegation was regarded as so serious that Corney & Barrow despatched its managing director Adam Brett-Smith to investigate.
    Although there was no evidence the bottle was a fake, Mr Brett-Smith was unable to provide a definitive answer.

    The company said: "What we told the restaurant and later confirmed in writing is that it is impossible to confirm 100 per cent the authenticity of a wine pre-1964."
    Before then the vineyard was run as a family concern by the former owner Madame Edmond Loubat with only limited record keeping and no cork stamps.
    Corney & Barrow now insist that every empty bottle of Pétrus is destroyed after the contents have been drunk to stop it being refilled with an inferior, fraudulent wine.
    The row at Zafferano had a happy ending.
    After calming down the customer ordered an alternative — a magnum of Mouton Rothschild 1945 at £20,000. This time it got drunk.
    But for Mr Cassini, it was a case of once bitten, twice shy. "I wouldn't buy any more wine of that calibre. It is a big risk to take. Only a few customers go for a wine like that. You can have fantastic experiences with younger wines from the Eighties or Nineties. Is any wine really worth £20,000?"
  2. I like the nice things in life but quite frankly to pay that for a bottle of wine is totally off the wall IMO!
  3. Money is all relative; $20000 to us to $200 to some people. If it is raved as the best wine ever and I have the money, I would definitely try it.
  4. Wow... that IS interesting. I've heard about fakes being proliferated with other wines too (notably, Penfold's Grange). Most of the wines that get faked are totally out of my price range, so I don't have to worry about buying one :smile: But it's interesting to note that even restaurants can get burned, not just the average consumer.

    I wonder if other restaurants will follow suit and not buy/stock up on older vintages of rare wines because of the possibility of fakes. (And of course, as the restaurant owner points out, how often do they really sell a $36,000 bottle of wine?)
  5. Sounds like buyer's remorse to me. Sometimes with wines that old the cork shrinks/ deteriorates and the bottle has to be re-corked to keep it from spoiling. It's fairly common knowledge. So for his guy to say that it's a fake, because the cork had the wrong markings is just :rolleyes:. Like they said, there's no way to prove who's right or wrong here, but I'm leaning toward the buyer being an idiot...
  6. :roflmfao: Yip probably noveau riche :roflmfao:
  7. how can it be buyer's remorse if he went and bought a 20,000 pound bottle of wine after he sent that back?