Antique Wine Co sued by collector for supplying fakes

Vintage wine corksFine wine collector Julian LeCraw has filed a lawsuit against the Antique Wine Company, claiming it sold him counterfeits.

Property developer LeCraw alleges that one bottle supplied by AWC at the princely sum of $100,000 turned out to be no more than "grape juice".

All told, the collector says that two bottles of Château d'Yquem - one 1787 and one 1847 vintage - a dozen bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild dated from 1784 to 1906 and a 1908 Château Margaux methuselah were all counterfeit.

The authenticity of the wines was tested by Chai Consulting's Maureen Downey, a Californian wine expert specialising in detecting fakes and helping clients manage wine collections. Among the claimed discrepancies in the case are wine labels printed using computers, incorrect corks and bottles in the wrong shape.

The plaintiffs say their findings have been backed up by experts at Château d’Yquem and Château Lafite Rothschild and - according to court documents filed on April 17 in Georgia Northern District Court - LeCraw is seeking up to $25m in redress.

London, UK-based AWC said in a statement that it "strongly denies all the allegations made against it by Julian LeCraw" and has provided "extensive evidence to prove that the allegations … are unfounded."

"This evidence includes extensive information provided at the time of the sales to show the authenticity of the wines and subsequent documents verifying the original information," added the company's managing director Stephen Williams.

WC also says it has also made numerous proposals for resolution of the issue and the proceedings will be "vigorously defended."

The last few months have seen the subject of vintage wine counterfeiting hit the headlines around the world.

Just a few weeks ago, a long-running legal dispute brought by billionaire wine collector William Koch took a dramatic turn after a US federal judge ruled punitive damages he was awarded in a case against Eric Greenberg were exorbitant and should be dramatically reduced.

Meanwhile, last December Rudy Kurniawan was found guilty in a Manhattan court of participating in the manufacture and sale of counterfeit vintage wines.

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