Le Pin Magnums and Counting the Cost of Frost and Covid

We live in challenging times and not just because of the ongoing pandemic. Here is the JollyCellarMaster Weekly.

The Famous 1929 Vintage and Difficult Times


Licking the Wounds

Last week’s big freeze across Europe has caused significant damages in wine producing countries like Croatia and France. The latter has declared an agricultural disaster and is preparing emergency financial measures. Following a spell of warm weather, the wave of frost has caused even bigger devastation with a third of French wine lost though some regions report even bigger damages to their crop and production for this year.

The Cost of Covid

We recently spoke about the cost of Covid in terms of unsold wine and it remains to be seen how the horeca sector will recover from the blow that has been the Coronavirus pandemic and the measures to fight it. But it is nowhere as palpable as in the personal stories and the victims of this disease. This past week, Pio Boffa, the renowned producer of Barolo and Barbaresco for Pio Cesare, has died of Covid-19 after battling the disease for two weeks. One of more than 100,000 victims in Italy alone…

Good riddance

The famous wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan has been deported to his native Indonesia this year. The man behind one of the most incredible stories of fraud in wine has been in prison for the last seven years following his conviction in 2013. He came to the US in the 90s on a student visa and stayed beyond its limits despite being to leave. Instead, he built a reputation as a collector of fine wines in the industry and sold millions of fake bottles to investors, famously selling at an auction in 2006 $24.7 million of wine and setting a record for a single consignee. Soon things turned sour (as explained in the documentary Sour Grapes), when the following year Christie’s pulled a consignment of 1982 Château Le Pin. In 2008, 22 lots of Domaine Ponsot wine valued at more than $600,000 were pulled from a sale amid questions about their authenticity with one of the bottle supposedly being from the 1929 vintage – even though Ponsot didn’t being estate bottling until five years later and it wasn’t the only time he tried to sell a vintage predating the actual start of a winemaker’s production.

When the FBI came knocking at his door in 2012, they found thousands of bottle lables and other material to fake the world’s most famous and thought after wines. After his conviction for fraud charges, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison as well as millions in restitutions to his victims. Suspicions have never been cleared as to whether Kurniawan acted alone, but in any case it’s a very bad story for the trade in fine wine as it has shaken confidence in the industry. With an estimated 12,000 bottles sold by Kurniawan many are still around and no one really knows for sure what actually is in these bottles. However, keep your finger’s crossed that you don’t get to try one from his collection caused you might not want to know what Rudy used to fake the sediment of those supposedly old wines…

That’s all for this week, but after I’ve used a moody quote by Mark Twain last week (thanks for the constructive criticism, Thomas), which might not have been entirely accurate (Twain’s observation, not my using of the quote, obviously), I’ll go for a more positive note this week even though the news haven’t been great this week. It’s from the great actor and comedian Robin Williams who has left us far too early and it is a reminder that there is much left to do when it comes to awareness of mental health issues. Anyway, here it goes: “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s Party!’” It still might not be practical in the current climate but Spring is far from over and at some point this pandemic must come to an end, right?

If you come across an interesting story, connect on Twitter 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’m trying 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 endeavor 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!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.