Known as “Sherlock Holmes of wine,” fine wine authentication expert Maureen Downey is returning to Hong Kong this October to offer a much-needed two-day workshop amid concerns of rising fakes.
The two-day seminar scheduled for October 21-22 at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong will cover the scope and types of wine fraud, as well as the most common practices of wine counterfeiters, and the basics of wine authentication to emplower the city’s wine merchants and collectors.
An authority in wine anthenticating, Downey acted as a consultant for both the US Department of Justice and the FBI during their investigation into the infamous Indonesian wine counterfeiter, Rudy Kurniawan, aka “Dr Conti” for his love of rarefied Domaine Romanee Conti. Her tesitfication against the fraudster helped to convict Kurniawan who served 10 years in jail in the US before his release in 2021.
Her upcoming workshop is timely for Hong Kong, which has cemented its reputation as Asia’s fine wine hub. As the city’s fine wine trade flourishes, so does the circulation of fake wines.
A notable concern is Downey’s claim that wines fraudulently produced by the notorious counterfeit wine maker Kurniawan, amounting to US$500 million, are still in cirulation. Collectors in Hong Kong and mainland China are prime targets for fraudsters for their inexperience and lack of knowledge.
More worryingly is that reports and rumors are surfacing that Kurniawan, the subject of the Netflix documentary Sour Grapes, has been attending VIP wine dinners in Asia and alledgedly resumed his counterfeit wine activities after his release to Indonesia.
Writing on his Instagram, Downey showed a picture of what is believed to be a 1990 DRC made by Kurniawan for a tasting in Singapore in July.
In response to these concerns and to educate the wine community, Downey’s upcoming workshop will offer attendees a captivating mix of theory and hands-on sessions. This includes deep dives into bottle nuances, deciphering the covert methods of counterfeiters, and interactive trials where participants can bring in suspect bottles, and compare genuine bottles against their counterfeit counterparts.
Given the high-profile nature of the event and the specialist knowledge being shared, attendance is exclusive. Potential attendees are required to submit their work history and two professional references to secure a seat.