We knew the wine market in China is hot. Now even empty bottles of famous wines can command top prices.
The Telegraph reports on the shady yet lucrative world of China’s bottle dealers where counterfeiters collect empty bottles to refill with less famous vintage to scam wealthy Chinese.
A favorite target is the expensive Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982 which sells for over US$3,000 at auction.
Bottle dealers have strict requirements.
They generally collect the more desirable Lafite and Maotai (China’s most famous spirit) bottles from bars and restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing. Bottles have to be genuine and in the best condition.
The upcoming Chinese New Year in February is “peak season” for these dealers as many Chinese splurge on wine to celebrate.
“This is always going to be a danger when people are drinking not out of passion but because they think that fine wine is what they think they should be seen drinking,” said Adam Bilbey of Berry Bros and Rudd in Hong Kong. China accounts for 65 percent of its sales.
Wine dealers and fine restaurants are inspecting bottles for tampering but face challenges spotting the fakes since some older wines tend to be re-corked.
photo credit: lafite