Corney & Barrow has raised the alarm after being offered suspicious bottles of a rare Burgundy wine that has previously fetched thousands of pounds at auction.


Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue

A trader recently tried to sell Corney & Barrow 12 bottles of Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue’s Musigny Vieilles Vignes 1947 vintage, but the merchant rejected the deal because it suspected the wines were fakes. The bottles were consecutively numbered, but did not come in a case.

‘One of our sales guys was offered this wine and we immediately contacted the domaine,’ said Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow, which is the UK agent for Comte Georges de Vogue.

The seller of the Comte de Vogue, Musigny 1947, claimed the wines were released from the domaine in the 1980s and had been held in a private cellar in Europe.

Only photos of the wines were shown, said Hargrove. Having consulted the Burgundy domaine, he believes there is ‘little or no credibility to this scenario’.

He has emailed many of his merchant rivals to warn them of ‘serious reservations’ over the wines’ authenticity. ‘Hopefully, this is stock that no one would touch with a barge pole,’ he said.

It is unusual to see several bottles of this wine together, such is its age. In 2012, Christie’s sold a magnum of the 1947 vintage for €8,625 (£6,800) at a Paris auction, versus a pre-sale estimate of €4,800.

Fake fine wines have been around for centuries, but the issue has risen to fresh prominence since the conviction of US-based fraudster Rudy Kurniawan in New York late last year.

Hargrove said it’s something the trade must continually be aware of. ‘With the rise in prices for Burgundy over the last few years in particular, unfortunately it’s a reality,’ he said.

Max Lalondrelle, fine wine buying director at Berry Bros & Rudd, said, ‘We see very little of it as we only buy bonded stock, but we do sometimes come across emails from Europe with things like very old famous wines from a great vintage, like 1959 in magnum in an original case.

‘I think the top UK merchants are now very aware and very careful with these things. The Rudy story has sent a very positive wave, which has scared the last remaining unscrupulous merchants.’

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Written by Chris Mercer