Tracking Bordeaux Across Borders

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By Robert Farmer
latache.jpgIt seems fitting that on the heels of news recently that Robert Parker is still of the mind that European wines, on balance, are superior to American wines, that the Europeans might be more inclined to pursue remarkable and innovative ways for dealing with fraud. Yes, there is a racket in which swindlers endeavor to dupe would-be wine buyers into buying something that is not what it seems. And while it might not seem a big deal to the pedestrian wine buyer, when it comes to, say, buying a $7,000 bottle 1947 Cheval Blanc, the buyer is keenly interested in getting what he or she paid for. That’s why news recently of fraud prevention innovations isn’t so surprising. For instance, the fact that twenty-five members of the Italian military police have qualified as sommeliers so that they might better detect wine fraud would probably seem wasteful to Americans. But in Italy, where wine is a way of life, it makes perfect sense. And in France, some of the top chateaux in Bordeaux have turned to technology to combat fraud. The so-called e-provenance method of tracking wine from bottling through distribution and storage is catching on with such names as Lafite, Margaux, and Latour. Simply, the technique uses microchip technology to monitor the constant whereabouts of a bottle, from producer to consumer. The tracking process is capable of not just detecting fraud, but also potentially damaging temperature swings or other harmful handling during shipment.

It’s all useful information to the interested collector or investor, and it’s likely to become the norm in Europe. Which means, look for it in the United States before long.




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