Italian police seized 80,000 ‘counterfeit’ items during the raid, including labels, caps, bottles and wooden cases, that were believed destined to create an estimated 6,600 bottles of fake Sassicaia 2015 – a highly rated vintage.
Had the wines been real, the collective market value would have been almost €2m, said the Florence division of financial police force ‘Guardia di Finanza’ (GdF) this week. A delivery of 41 cases of the 2015 vintage ‘ready to be sold’ was also intercepted, it added.
It said that it believed the counterfeiters had already been making around 700 cases of counterfeit wine per month, an illicit income of around 400,000 euros.
It was not clear how long the operation had been running, but the GdF said it had uncovered a sophisticated network in an investigation that has been ongoing for more than a year.
It is the latest example of how valuable fine wine has become a target for counterfeiters.
According to GdF, wine from Sicily was being used in the bottles, which themselves came from Turkey, while labels, caps, crates and tissue paper to imitate the wrapping came mostly from Bulgaria.
News agency Reuters quoted Dario Sopranzetti, a colonel in the financial police, as saying the fraudulent Sassicaia bottles and packaging appeared ‘perfectly identical to the originals’. A video released by GdF showed some of the materials involved.
There was evidence of customers placing orders for the wines, and particularly Korean, Russian and Chinese buyers, the GdF said.
Eleven people suspected of involvement in the counterfeit operation were under investigation, it said.
Two people in the Province of Milan have been placed under house arrest, accused of organising the falsification of Sassicaia wines between the 2010 and 2015 vintages.