Fake Bordeaux, Drought, and the Blockchain in the Wine Industry

The weather keeps playing the main role, no matter what time of the year. We’ve already seen hail Frost and extensive rainfall, now it’s drought. Last week I did an extensive interview with a prominent winemaker for the next JollyCellarMaster podcast season (more on that a little later) and I couldn’t help being in awe again when I witness the courage these people have: labouring along most of the year and all the time under the dangling sword that are external events like weather or pests and diseases that within a blink could ruin it all. Luckily, there also some really good news from the wine world in our latest edition of the JollyCellarMaster:

Summer in the City, Fake Medoc, and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know but Didn’t Dare Asking

Feeling the heat

First the bad news though: following a series of extreme weather events that we have already experienced this year from hail to frost to flooding, we can now add severe drought add to the list.

Decanter among other reports that the Italian government has declared a state of emergency in several regions and farming groups have highlighted a threat to food crops, with winemakers among those monitoring the situation closely.

Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto are the regions that have hit the hardest and the state will make funds of €36.5m available to these regions for drought relief. The drought comes from a combination of an early summer heatwave and the lack of precipitation in the form of winter snow or spring rain. To emphasize the effects. The river Po, Italy longest current, is running dry and seawater have been breaking anti-salt barriers. As a result, seawater is pouring up the river, damaging the biosphere of the river and making irrigation even more difficult, so the crops are under severe risk.

Other regions have been hit less hard, but still suffer under the rising temperatures. New heights are expected across the country for the weekend, when 40° Celsius will be broken in several places. That’s usually the level when photosynthesis shuts down, but the heat and drought stress also damage the grapes and the vines directly.

Faking it

A wine merchant and owner of a chateau in Bordeaux who has not been named has together with a gang of more than 20 people tried to pull off a large-scale scam with fake Bordeaux wines. The fraudsters bought cheap wine from other French regions and countries including Spain, before bottling it at a secret location under the cover of darkness and adding self-printed Bordeaux châteaux labels, the Drinks Business reports with reference to The Times. The fake bottles were distributed through intermediaries that included businesses and even pensioners, according to the state prosecutor, Frédérique Porterie

It was an operation of industrial scale since the group was trying to sell large quantities of apparent Medoc wines at a discount to supermarkets. Porterie explained that “at the end of the chain, customers thought they were acquiring château-bottled Bordeaux whose names and labels inspired confidence at sometimes knock-down prices when they were in fact buying bottom-of-the-range wines or those coming from areas quite a long way from Bordeaux”.

Interestingly, the gang got busted when the police discovered equipment for printing wine labels during a drugs raid. Reminds you a little bit of Doctor Pinot, doesn’t it?!?

A Wine and Blockchain Forum

I have written extensively about the application of Blockchain technology in the wine sector. The recent fire sale of cryptocurrencies (and other financial assets) is not going to change that since the potential of the underlying technology goes far beyond this particular use case, though I will not deny that there is some potential reputational damage adding to the always existing issues surrounding the adoption of any technological innovation.

If rather than reading my stuff, you hear from other sector experts, you should register for the following event organised by Geisenheim university. The Forum Blockchain in the Wine Industry is a conference on applications of Blockchain technology in the wine sector. The forum will present existing and real-world blockchain applications from cultivation to marketing, as well as scientific research results. The forum brings together companies and stakeholders from the wine industry, innovators and academia and serves as a networking event to exchange ideas, concepts and applications of Blockchain technology.

While I will not present myself, I’ll attend the hybrid event online and make sure to comment if I’ve got anything useful to add. It’s free to register and you’ll find all the information you need on how to attend here:


With the heat sneaking up on us with every hour that passes, it gets fairly hot in my office, so I better switch of my computer and you leave you with this. However, if you have an interesting story to tell or simply want to chat about wine as a guest on the Podcast, connect on Twitter or drop me a line. And if you want to stay in the loop about things happening at the JollyCellarMaster and the world of wine, make sure you sign up to our newsletter.

Disclaimer: As always, I’d like to be completely transparent about affiliations, conflicts of interest, my expressed views and liability: Like anywhere else on this website, the views and opinions expressed are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. The material information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. I endeavour to keep this information correct and up-to-date, I do not accept any liability for any falls in accurate or incomplete information or damages arising from technical issues as well as damages arising from clicking on or relying on third-party links. I am not responsible for outside links and information is contained in this article nor does it contain any referrals or affiliations with any of the producers or companies mentioned. As I said, the opinions my own, no liability, just thought it would be important to make this clear. Thanks!

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