Linky:http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09/03/070903fa_fact_keefe


I'd say negative things about Howard Koch, but he'd probably try and sue me!

You would think someone with so much money would have better things to do with his time!
Original Post
What a fascinating article, thanks for sharing. Really amazing how these fake bottles are made, circulated and in most cases completely unable to be authenticated by the vineyards themselves. I'm talking all fakes, not just these Jefferson jokes.

It just so happens I have several magnums of Petrus 1921 in my basement for sale! If the cork reads Yellow Tail I can't be held accountableSmile
I just have a problem understanding people with unlimited resources spending their lives suing people (Koch has sued everyone)...life is too short for that. It reminds me of the Anna Nicole saga...the brother could have easily paid her $50mm (leaving him with 500mm+ still), and enjoyed the remaining 10 years of his life. Instead, he was tied up in court fighting her. Koch seems to really enjoy suing people - imo, I won't do business with people who sue. Either they are terrible judges of character or real pricks (pardon the language). I'm talking about habitual suers (right word?), not cases which may truly be justified.

Also, when asked if he'd ever drink these high end wines, he said no! He compares wine to collecting guns. Nuff said! Wine is meant to be drunk. End of story.
Awesome article.

And I have no concern for Koch. Yeah, he got screwed, but it's like me losing $0.50 to the vending machine trying to get a soda. I'm not going to sue the vending company because their machine ate my money... it's not worth it.

And I agree with Wino90210. There's something wrong with this guy...

quote:
Koch may be as compulsive about filing lawsuits as he is about collecting. He waged a twenty-year legal battle against two of his brothers relating to the family business. (The matter was settled in 2001.) He sued the state of Massachusetts over an improperly taxed stock transaction and won a forty-six-million-dollar abatement. When a former girlfriend whom he had installed at a condo in Boston’s Four Seasons hotel refused to leave, Koch took her to housing court and had her evicted. He talks about “dropping a subpoena” on people as if he were lobbing a grenade.
USed to be big into cigars Most sought after was cohiba habana robusto siz. SOmething like 300,000 are made by cohibafacvtory every year. Somethong like 4 million are sold every year. GOt to a point when the inside of the box had a a unique registation code to confirm autneticity. THink wine world might haveto move to something like that on the case level at the least.
I have had what I thought was off bottles of a vintage (not talking jug wine here)might have been knock ofs. The story of the three bottles of petrus have been around for a while, first and third were fakes, second was authentic, people at ttable sent the second back.
In the New Yorker article they bring up power of suggestion (i.e. give a good bottle of wine in regular bottle its perceivedas good, but same wine in first growth bottle its perceived much better. Same wine
GUess what I am trying to say is like anything in life buyew beware
What I want to know is, how does an auction house recork the wine after it's been opened? It says something like "Broadbent tasted the wine and attested to the authenticity."

So he tasted it, it went on the auction block, and then someone bought it? Well the wine was already opened. And for that matter, how do the chateaus recork a wine without ruining it?
Anybody ever have a fake wine?

I bought 3 1976 Chambertins (Bernard Grivelet) at release and learned later he was arrested for using villages wines instead of Chambertin. That was likely the reason I bought it at such a low price. I took the bottles back to the store and they refunded my money and let me keep one of the bottles. We opened the wine expectiong plonk and were surprised the wine was quite good, not quite what I'd expect from a Chambertin, but a lot closer that I expected.
quote:
Originally posted by mwagner7700:
What I want to know is, how does an auction house recork the wine after it's been opened? It says something like "Broadbent tasted the wine and attested to the authenticity."

So he tasted it, it went on the auction block, and then someone bought it? Well the wine was already opened. And for that matter, how do the chateaus recork a wine without ruining it?


Here's how Penfolds does it.

PH
So they'll add a different vintage wine to top it off?

I guess I can see the nitrogen expelling any oxygen. However, the wine was slightly aerated when the guy took a pour. Therefore, wouldn't the wine have been exposed to oxygen and start oxidizing? We're not talking about HUGE wines here. We're talking about wines that are over 30 years old, and I would assume even the slightest amount of air could be detrimental.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
Some of the Chateaux of Bordeaux do this gratis, I believe. Lafite, if they still do it, would send people to NYC to do it everty 5 years or so. I considered get my 1955 Lafites recorked, but the levels and corks semed fine, so I passed.

What about your 1961? Or was that the Latour?
Re the newer vintage being added to "top off" the bottles. That is fairly standard practice even in casks guys. I can;t remember the legal limits but I have a feeling it might be 5% that is allowed. If you age a wine in oak for 12+ months you have some ullage forming in the cask. Some soaking into the wood, some evaporating into the atmosphere. Any decent winery tops off these casks every few months to remove that ullage space at the top of the cask. SOME vineyards specifically keep small amounts of the specific wine bottled (yes bottled) for exactly this reason. Others might keep a small cask to use for "topping off". Generally this topping cask is refilled (as it must be) with a different wine than that it is topping off.... Hope that made sense.

I have seen the Penfolds guys do the topping off and recorking gig back in Aus way back in the late 80's (or it might have been early 90's). For the amount of wine they use to refill, it is going to make such a small difference to the whole that you shouldn't worry. Personally i think it is a great idea, since some corks no matter what might disintergrate under you and ruin what should be a great wine!
Well it is interesting how much comment and opinion Koch’s 'Jefferson' bottles have generated on several of the most active wine forums. And in most it seems that the majority are convinced that Koch’s allegations against Rodenstock are a slam dunk.
I have no axe to grind on behalf of Mr Rodenstock but nor am I very sympathetic towards Mr Koch who is clearly not some poor defenseless codger at the mercy of conmen.

I believe people have a right to do what they want with their money but I have a PERSONAL antipathy towards the purchase of wine simply for personal display purposes without any intention of fulfilling its original destiny. If he had bought the bottles for the Jefferson museum collection I would feel differently.

As far as I can see the main case against Hardy Rodenstock is that he is actually Meinhard Goerke and that he may have invented or disguised aspects of his private life, and, rather more significantly, that the engraved initials on the Jefferson bottles he has supplied MAY have been made or at least 'enhanced' with a modern cutting tool. A bottle [not Koch’s] had been checked in 1985 by an expert employed by the auctioneer, Christie’s, who confirmed his view that it conformed with bottles from the 18th Century and the engraving appeared genuine.
I am not aware that any doubt has been cast on the bottle itself but the engraving is obviously questionable although the evidence so far is purely from one side. One would have thought that CSI technology could yet provide something more conclusive.
Even if the engaving is completely modern or the initials belonged to someone else or even, as has also been suggested, it is an attempt by ‘someone’ [Rodenstock obviously denies any involvement] to bolster its value by ‘enhancing’ initials that had started to disappear, there is at yet no clear evidence that the bottle or the wine in it are forgeries – unless the fact that the wine tasted younger than expected is deemed sufficient.

If of course it can be proved that the engraving was modern and made in total on a blank space that would be an important step forward [or backward depending on your viewpoint] but one wonders if such is possible since ANY engraving could be argued to have obliterated what MIGHT have been underneath.

The best available ‘nuclear’ testing [from 2 tests including the latest commissioned by Koch] confirms that the wine [at least Koch's bottles] is old and possibly old enough to be from the 18th Century or even earlier. It is certainly not post the first nuclear tests and the glass bottle also seems to date from that era. Unfortunately the nuclear tests done for both Rodenstock and later for Koch are only indicative of a window that runs from as early as the 17th or [in the latter case 18th century] to possibly as late as the 1940s in both tests – but not later than that.
There is only one bottle where the contents appear to contain some wine made after the first nuclear tests and that was sold to a German collector. Even those results are contested but in any case do not relate to Koch’s wines.

Nor, as has been suggested, could Rodenstock have ‘adjusted’ the bottles that were eventually sold to Koch because he was alerted by that single allegedly adverse nuclear test because Koch already had his bottles before that test was done.
And all the experts, Broadbent, Parker, Robinson and others, agreed that the Rodenstock wines they tasted were old [but tasted much younger than centuries old wines were expected to] and were tasty to wonderful. And Broadbent certainly said he could not get Rodenstock to tell him from where or whom he had obtained the bottles - a major dent in any serious definition of provenance that should have warned any concerned collector that the already highly unlikely scenario [that wines Thomas Jefferson had acquired had been found at a secret location in Paris in good condition] was even less certain since the current owner refused to identify the location or the seller.

There were several other red flags e.g. the doubts raised by a Jefferson expert from the Foundation at Monticello in response to advice sought by Christie’s prior to the sale of the single bottle of Lafitte to Forbes for the world record sum that provoked the later interest of Koch and others. Those inconclusive reservations were apparently reported in the Times although that did not deter Christopher Forbes or the trophy hunters who came later.
Koch did not buy his ‘Jefferson’ bottles from Christie’s but got one from the Chicago Wine Company and 3 from Farr Vintner’s in the UK in 1988 but appears to have relied at least in part on the endorsement given by Christie’s in 1985 to the Rodenstock bottle of Lafitte sold to Forbes.

So what do I think? I think on balance that Rodenstock may be part of a sting perpetrated on Koch and others. But what do I KNOW – like Manuel in response to Basil Fawlty in the UK TV series Fawlty Towers, "I KNOW nothing"!
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Tong BBP:
I've got a 1990 Penfolds Bin 90A and Bin 389 - if they come round again I plan to get them checked out.

Dave,
The 90A should be drunk. It did not hold up as long as everyone thought. Drank my last bottle about 2 years ago and it was definately peaked and starting to head down. (My bottles were stored under decent but NOT optimal conditions). The 389 I am not sure about, but I would hazard it also should be drunk.

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