Winefraud is endemic for very good reasons. The ill- gotten gains are potentially vast, and the downside is relatively small compared to other forms of forgery. Counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan, sentenced in 2013 and the subject of the recent film Sour Grapes, is the first person to serve federal jail time for wine fraud; in France, the maximum sentence for the crime is two years. Not surprisingly, multiple sources estimate that fully 20 per cent of fine wine is fake.
“It’s a massive problem, and it’s getting worse, not better,” says Maureen Downey, authenticator extraordinaire and founder of Winefraud. com. The fine wine trade, she believes, is “in peril” from the twin scourges of counterfeit wine and theft. Not only are
Cuvee Winston Churchill. The only requirement is a bit of patience.
Risk- takers might be attracted by the prospect of anticipating trends. Clearly, the wine world is changing and the tastemakers of the future are just as likely to post on Instagram as write in established wine journals. Producers that strike a chord with the next generation of wine lovers are already doing very well.
“I’d look to the stuff sommeliers find it hard to find today,” advises Castells. “In a decade, collectors will be looking for it too.” Even a short list of such wines is eclectic, ranging from the elegant Languedoc reds of Grange des Peres to the electric Anjou Chenin Blanc of Richard Leroy. Many are influenced to some degree by the natural-wine movement and they all tend to spin compelling narratives.
“I think storytelling has entered the investment market,” says Leonard. Small, artisanal producers with a powerful story, he argues, “are easy to champion in the face of established blue-chip wines”. These are producers, he adds, that younger consumers are unlikely to find in their parents’ collections. Of course, it’s a lot easier to buy a pallet of cru classe Bordeaux than it is to parse the intricacies of obscure wine regions like the Jura. But for those to whom the excitement of the chase is as great a satisfaction as the prize itself, pursuing the cult wines of the future might be the best investment strategy of all. ≠
“I’d look to the stuff sommeliers find it hard to find today.”