Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Inside the Biggest Wine Hoax in History"

Beginning about 2002 and until spring 2008, as Wall Street plunder and heady real estate values made many Americans rich or richer, Kurniawan fed the hunger for oldest and rarest wine, cost be damned. How had he, still in his twenties, managed to acquire this seemingly limitless lode of introuvables? Kurniawan offered plausible, if unprovable, explanations. Early on, he claimed to have bought the cellar of a wealthy family in Florida. But even a very large private cellar could not keep on giving at the rate that Kurniawan was selling.

And so a new, more intriguing story began making the rounds: Kurniawan had acquired, possibly with a partner, a huge trove of old French wines in Europe. It was dubbed the “Magic Cellar,” or as Acker’s John Kapon called it, “THE Cellar.” Its lineage was said to go back more than a century to a time when the then-dominant French retail wine shop chain, Nicolas, purchased large quantities of the finest French wines directly from the most renowned vineyards.


Few collectors, especially those new to the game, actually knew what the real thing should taste like. “It’s surprisingly easy to fob off flawed or inauthentic wine,” says Wilf Jaeger. “At a certain point, people have drunk too much and they are not paying attention.”

Even if they are paying attention, and do question a wine, they are unlikely to “kill the buzz” at a festive table