The wine world may still remember the infamous wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan, who was nicknamed ‘Dr Conti’ for his love towards Burgundy wine. His trial in 2013 marked the first time the US government tried a defendant for counterfeiting wine. The issue of counterfeit wines has since then become increasingly public and concerning.
Among the most commonly counterfeited wines such as Lafite, Lafleur or Pétrus, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, or DRC, is one of the most anticipated and counterfeited wine labels on the world auction scene due to its astronomical price.
Known as one of Burgundy’s most renowned wine producers, DRC sells wines from eight different grand cru vineyards, including its most famous vineyard Romanée-Conti.
The domaine is well-known for its historical value with its roots dating back to 1232 when the Abbey of Saint Vivant in Vosne first acquired the vineyard. Nowadays, DRC vineyards lie on UNESCO World Heritage sites in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits regions, which were enshrined by the United Nations in 2015.
There is no doubt that the long history and its Burgundy root make DRC special, but the rarity of the wine plays a huge role in its soaring price.
While Chateau Lafite Rothschild produces about 15,000 to 20,000 cases of wine per year, DRC only produces between 6,000 and 8,000 cases annually. Its most famous Romanée-Conti produces only 450 cases, making the wine extremely difficult to obtain. As such, the prestigious wine would be more scarce and valuable after each bottle is sold and consumed.
According to Wine-Searcher.com, the average price of the entry-level Corton Grand Cru is up to HK$23,430 (US$3,007), and the rarefied Romaneé-Conti Grand Cru is averagely priced at HK$188,364 (US$24,178).
In October 2018, DRC broke the world record for the most expensive bottle of wine. Two bottles of 1945 Romanée-Conti were sold for US$558,000 and US$496,000 at a Sotheby’s New York auction, surpassing the estimated price of US$22,000 to 32,000. Only 600 bottles were produced by the domaine in 1945, making it a highly coveted vintage.
With DRC’s world-breaking records comes fraudsters and ill-intended merchants who are scheming to pass off counterfeit bottles at auctions. Here we rounded up the four times when DRC were alleged as counterfeits at famed auction houses.
Scroll through the pages below to read them all.