A ring of Italian and Russian counterfeiters have been arrested. These arrests have been a huge reminder to many in the industry that wine counterfeiting is still happening, and in high volumes. This ring was found after an investigation sprouting from information from Mahatma Wines. The ring recreated these wines and sold through Mahatma, especially in the months before and up to September 2016. Mahatma Wines were discovered selling these wines on their site, and in mailers despite many reports from those within the industry that the wines featured were counterfeit. All bottles of wine that should be looked at are DRC Romanee Conti and La Tache.
This ring of counterfeiters were discovered after a client bought multiple bottles of wine and returned them claiming they were counterfeit. DRC wanted to seize them, but Mahatma wanted to get their money from these fakes back before handing over the people’s information and the bottles. Once money was recouped, DRC- with the information about the counterfeiters- turned the information over to the French and Italian polices which led to the arrests and warehouse raids. In six countries bottles were taken in as exhibits. A total of eight men were arrested with Alexander Anikin at the helm of the operation.
Of the bottles in question, a group of 2005 Romanee-Contis have perfect looking labels, but the glass is inconsistent with bottling practices by DRC.
In three consecutive mailings in September, Don Cornwall reported to Mahatma- with great details- why the bottles were incorrect and alerted DRC so that they could track future sales by the wine seller.
On another grouping of bottles, all labels seem to have been made as copies of an original counterfeit label, as they all share the same incorrect aspects. In these, the neck label proves to be the kryptonite of the counterfeiter. The neck label lines are inconsistent in width, but also in the distance between the two lines, sometimes running into each other. In an authentic label, all lines have set widths throughout and set distance between the two lines. Also incorrect on the neck tags in the font in the vintage. Fonts on the counterfeits are a basic Arial font, not the correct font used by the producer.
In still more examples of incorrect bottles, come capsules discrepancies: in color of the writing (gray vs white), and material (lead vs wax) for the same vintages. The Mise Du Domaine in white is correct for the 1971 vintage.
In other bottles, the serial number ink is in an uncommonly dark black ink, but the serial numbers begin before a thousand with samples all the way up to the four thousands, which proves that a random batch of coloring is not possible, but instead an incorrect ink used for these numbers.