Police foil €1m counterfeit wine scam in Italy

Vineyard in TuscanyItalian police have smashed a counterfeiting ring, seizing thousands of litres of fake wine with an estimated value of around €1m.

The counterfeiters targeted Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wines from Tuscany in Italy, which feature among the country's most prestigious varieties alongside the likes of Barolo, Barbaresco and Amarone.

All told, 75,000 litres of Brunello di Montalcino and 90,000 litres of Rosso di Montalcino were uncovered, along with more than 2,000 fake labels, according to the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium representing the producers. None of the fake wine had entered the supply chain.

The operation by police and Italy's Inspectorate for the Suppression of Fraud (ICQRF) resulted in several arrests, including a wine consultant based in the Montalcino area and other individuals working in the local wine industry.

The President of the Consortium, Fabrizio Bindocci, said counterfeiting "is a serious issue that could cause significant damage to Brunello di Montalcino, to its producers and its territory." The illicit activity was discovered thanks to a discrepancy between the production and sales recorded by one of its producers.

"This is a case of fraud against the consumer and most of all against the producers of Brunello," he continued.  "If and when the investigations confirm the various parties responsible, the Consortium will immediately submit a civil claim and will use all means necessary to combat similar behaviour."

In May, Brunello fakes were among 30,000 counterfeit bottles seized in an operation carried out by police in Siena.

At the time, Bindocci said that the case highlighted the serious problems facing the region's wine growers, despite the implementation of controls such as traceability of each bottle and monitoring the sale of grapes and wine sold in bulk.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock / Kaband

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