In Benjamin Wallace’s Billionaire’s Vinegar, the author tells the tale of a highly contentious bottle of 1787 Lafite, reputed to have once been owned by Thomas Jefferson, and then auctioned off for a record sum. The book’s theme becomes the faking of fine wines. Well, Wallace would find fertile territory for a sequel in China, where the practice (as with many things) has been taken to an industrial level. The Daily Telegraph this week reports that the Chinese are so keen to buy Lafite for this year’s Lunar New Year celebrations that disreputable merchants are rushing out fakes. The Shanghai merchants are offering up to Rmb2,900 for empty bottles of Chateau Lafite (1982 being the preferred year, naturally), and then filling them with less celebrated Bordeaux. Huge profit margins can be had from the scam, since single bottles of vintage Lafite sell in China for as much as $3,000. “The bottles need to be in the best condition possible,” one dealer told the Telegraph. With zero sense of irony he even added: “I only want genuine bottles, no fakes.”
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