POLICE have broken up a €2million wine fraud where Italian conmen sold bottles of cheap wine faked to look like Romanée-Conti, one of the world’s most expensive wines.
Judges in Dijon have ordered the arrest of two Italian wine merchants at the heart of the scam who had sold around 400 fake bottles of the famed Burgundy for two million euros.
Romanée-Conti vineyard had lodged a complaint at the end of 2012 after discovering bottles of its premier wine, the AOC Romanée-Conti, were being sold at well below the usual price.
Made with grapes from a 1.81 hectare parcel of land, only 6,000 bottles are sold a year. Earlier this year a bottle of the 1990 vintage was sold for €12,620 and two years ago one bottle of the 1945 vintage sold for a record €87,815.
Romanée-Conti 2008 and 2009 will cost up to €9,000 and the Italians were selling at around €5,000 for poor quality wine, which investigators found was a blend of several wines.
In all, seven people in the distribution chain have been arrested and 69 bottles of fake wine seized in France, including some in Burgundy.
A series of raids coordinated by Eurojust on October 16 on around 20 homes and warehouses around Europe turned up some packing similar to that used in the fraud.