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Antique Wine Co asks court to dismiss $25m lawsuit

A UK merchant facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the US over alleged fake wine, Antique Wine Co, has formally asked the court to throw out the complaint against it.

The seal on the 1847 Chateau d’Yquem, which is under scrutiny in the case. Image credit: AWC

In court filings submitted late yesterday (16 June), Antique Wine Co‘s (AWC) lawyers argued that there is no legal basis for bringing a lawsuit against the firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

Real estate investor and fine wine collector Julian LeCraw Jr is attempting to sue AWC in the US state for $25m. He alleged that AWC knowingly sold him several bottles of fake fine wine, including a bottle of 1787 vintage Chateau d’Yquem for $90,000 plus insurance.

AWC has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and contests LeCraw’s assertions that the wines in question – which also include an 1847 Yquem, 12 bottles of Lafite-Rothschild spanning 1784 to 1906 and a 1908 Margaux – are fake.

‘The court should dismiss the AWC defendants from this action as it lacks personal jurisdiction over them,’ an AWC filing says. Another argues that LeCraw’s lawsuit contains ‘fatal legal flaws’.

Separately, AWC took the unusual step of publishing a range of email correspondence between LeCraw and its managing director, Stephen Williams, alongside forwarded emails involving two other UK wine merchants, in an attempt to back up its case.

The files were released last night to several media outlets – including Decanter.com – along with examples of bank statements and several other ‘exhibits’, including correspondence with experts in Bordeaux on the authenticity of some of the wines in question.

AWC accused LeCraw of ‘opportunistic extorsion’. It has said ‘it duly researched the provenance of the wines it supplied and fully disclosed that information to Julian LeCraw Jr at the time of his various purchases’.

LeCraw hired independent expert Maureen Downey, of California-based Chai Consulting, to examine the wines last year. Downey has spent years analysing the authenticity of wines for billionaire Bill Koch among other clients.

She concluded the wines in LeCraw’s lawsuit were fakes and the court filing by LeCraw’s lawyers says this assessment was backed up for the Yquem and several Lafites by the chateaux themselves. Downey flew several bottles to Bordeaux in March this year.

AWC argued that the chateaux had not been aware of all of the evidence when they cast judgement.

Written by Chris Mercer

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