Fake wine first-hand

drc wine label Last week, a story broke about The White Club, a group with $25k annual dues that staged lavish, wine-centric dinners around the world. We mentioned the fill-and-refill scam in Friday’s post about fake wine.

Since then, some details have emerged about the attendees. Jancis Robinson published a post detailing how she had attended three of the White Club dinners and was “taken in” by the organizers (adding, “My colleagues John Stimpfig and Neal Martin were too.”). She suspects that the wines at the first dinner, outside of Copenhagen, were mostly real. By the second dinner, in Bern, the pouring was taking place in another room. And by the third dinner, in November 2011 in Hong Kong, she writes that the organizer “by this point must have thought I was a real mug because it was quite clear that many of these wines were not at all as they should be. It was all decidedly embarrassing.” She has removed any comments about the wines from her site.

Neal Martin, author of Pomerol and Wine Advocate contributor, has yet to comment on The White Club. Over on WineBerserkers, a commenter posted one of Martin’s tasting notes for a Petrus 1970 from one of the dinners: “This is probably one of the finest bottles of Petrus I have encountered. Drink now-2030. Tasted September 2012.”

Old bottles are famously variable. In fact, there’s a saying that there aren’t good wines, there are only good bottles. Apparently there are also fake bottles. So, remind me, what’s the point of tasting old wines (especially not ex-cellar) and publishing notes on them? At the very least, participants should be obliged to take a big shot of skepticism before proceeding.

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2 Responses to “Fake wine first-hand”


  1. It has been drawn to my attention that Neal Martin did post about this on the Wine Advocate forum behind their paywall. Because the attorneys for the Wine Advocate have disapproved of me copying material from there and posting it here, I guess we will have to wait for Martin to make a comment in a public forum to advance the discussion.


  2. Tyler for what it’s worth Neal martin responded to my inquiry on Facebook. The posts are not protected by WA’s privacy policies. They reveal little but are here:

    Jack Bulkin ….. Did your pictures of the bottles corroborate that the bottle had the same tears and issues externally as the previous tasting? Obviously the tasting notes varied. Do you think the bottle was refilled with Pomerol or is it too hard to tell. Thanks.
    May 12 at 2:08pm · Like

    Neal Martin This is something I have asked the investigators to check. One Petrus 1970 photo came from me, but I don’t know where they got the second picture from. Once I speak to them I’ll have a better idea. It did taste like a very good mature Pomerol, but not like a genuine top Petrus. Anyway, I need some sleep. Lots of Chablis to taste tomorrow. No fakes there!


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