Italian police have seized 30,000 bottles of counterfeit Tuscan wines after a tip off from consumers who realised they were drinking rubbish.
The wines had been labelled as Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico, among other premium regional wines, selling for many times more than the actual value of the wine used. The wines were accredited as DOCG (controlled designation of origin), the top level hallmark of quality and came with false certification and sold for up to 10 times its true value, Italian wine website winenews.it reported.
Even opera singer Andrea Bocelli was caught up in the scam scam, with the substitute sangiovese used in bottles of his own branded drop, Bocelli a Lajatico.
It’s reported that Italian police believe six companies have been involved in the scam and a large amount of the wine has already been exported. The investigation into the substitution racket is continuing but leading, established exporters have been cleared of any involvement.
Italian Confederation of Farmers estimates that fraud effects up to 20% of the wine industry with Italian agriculture minister Maurizio Martina saying that Italy led that way in cracking down on fakes, with officials making 130,000 checks last year.
Premium wine scams are becoming a common occurrence, with French officials seizing 400 bottles of fake Domaine de la Romanee-Conti worth $3 million. An Italian man and his son were behind the scam.
And last month, American billionaire William Koch was involved in a court case over $300,000 of supposedly fake Bordeaux wines he claimed “tasted like vinegar”.
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