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Sutcliffe: fake wine a cloud of shame'

Published:  23 July, 2008

Serena Sutcliffe MW, head of Sotheby's international wine department, has warned that the number of investment-
grade wines being faked is ready to explode'.
In her speech Wines at Auction: Comparing the US and UK Markets', given at the Wine Invest 2006 conference held in London last week, she outlined how the sheer density of wealth' in New York, which she called the hub' of the international fine-wine market, has led to huge prices being fetched by the most prestigious wines, which in turn has created a rash of counterfeit bottles that she described as the cloud of shame' hanging over the wine trade.

Sutcliffe referred to the pussyfooting, PC attitude' of producers towards fake wine and asserted that it has become a huge business and at some point it will explode'. The already high prices of trophy wines could become even higher if the explosion' ever happens, she believed, because there will be less wine available.

She also told the audience that it is quite common' for

her to reject million-dollar consignments of wine that she believes contain, in part, faked bottles; by declining suspect bottles or cases, she often loses the rest of a consignment. 1961 red Bordeaux was cited as an example of the type of wine that might be attractive to forgers - a great year that currently fetches extraordinarily high prices, but this was a very low-yielding Bordeaux vintage and relatively little wine was made, so full cases of 1961 Chteau Quelquechose could

be suspect.

Sutcliffe also bemoaned the fact that there is very little traceability (as opposed to provenance) for old wines. She also stated that big punters distort the market' and that wine investment is a dicey market'.