RUDY KURNIAWAN & GLOBAL WINE AUCTION FRAUD THREAD (MERGED)

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Post #5551  Postby Chuck Miller » December 13th 2013, 5:00pm

Jim, he already self edited his post to simply 'Full Disclosure'. That certainly clears things up. Based on the time of his original post, I'm guessing it was a PWI post.
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Post #5552  Postby Don Cornwell » December 13th 2013, 5:06pm

Maureen Downey wrote:There was no testimony given that Rudy emailed instructions to anyone.
There was no testimony about anything other than the fact that there were labels with hand written notes on them on how to make them better.
* * * *
We have no idea where those Nicolas labels are from! That's not evidence. The word japan wasn't even brought up!

MD


Maureen:

I had the understanding, as well as some others around me that some of the documents with instructions in the Indonesian language were attachments to emails, but I will concede that I could have been wrong about that, especially since you reviewed some of these documents independently of the trial. However, as to your second point, about the absence of any evidence that the Nicolas labels presented to the jury came from a source other than Rudy, I would totally disagree. That evidence was extremely clear and it was presented to the jury -- although Mr. Wynne did not point out the third party sourcing to the jury.

I have clarified my original post to delete the reference to the instructions being emailed and to further specify, with a good deal more precision, why I think it was very clear from the evidence presnted to the jury that Rudy had outside help with the labels and that these notations in Indonesian language were not notes that Rudy wrote to himself. A copy of the additional language addted to my prior post is as follows:

The government also presented multiple examples of documents seized from Kurniawan’s house which were written in Indonesian. [CLARIFICATION and FURTHER EXPLANATION:] Among the documents were a series of templates for counterfeit labels or scans of partially completed counterfeit labels which contained handwritten notations (in Indonesian) directing that the labels be re-produced or modified in certain very specific ways. Although no further explanation was provided to the jury, it seems to me that there are only two plausible ways to interpret these documents. They are either notes that Rudy wrote to himself in the Indonesian language directing himself to make specific changes in the templates, or they are notes which he wrote for transmission to one of his brothers (or someone else who speaks Indonesian) directing that the labels be produced or corrected in certain ways. In my opinion, based on the physical evidence produced and the absence of certain other evidence, it's clear that someone other than Rudy was producing a good portion of the labels being applied by Rudy and that the handwritten notes were actually instructions to one of his brothers or someone else. Here is my reasoning/rationale:


1. There is no evidence in the record at all the two printers in Rudy's house, one large and one small, and neither of which was seized by the government was capable of producing the particular labels found in the house which were presented to the jury. Moreover, the government didn't present any evidence to the jury that either printer was a color printer.

2. There was clear evidence that someone other than Rudy was producing at least some of the labels found in the house and presented to the jury. There were multiple bags of small "Reserve Nicolas" neck labels and the small Nicolas "Decante" back labels. These labels were all on self-adhesive paper sitting on yellow-colored backing with multiple labels on each sheet. Many sheets of the labels were packed together in small form-fitting plastic bags and each of those bags bore the name SHIROTA printed in large blue lettering on the top of each bag and a series of large characters in what appeared to be Japanese lettering running along the bottom of each bag. These bags were totally unlike the bags used by the FBI for the other labels and Mr. Wynne testified that the items contained in bags other than the clear ziploc bags used by the government were the original bags in which the items were found in Kurniawan's house.

3. A considerable portion of the thousands of main labels taken from Kurniawan's home, and a considerable portion of the neck and strip labels, including the so-called "shield" neck labels with their three pointed crests, were printed on self-adhesive paper (i.e. they were "stick-on" labels). The government did not present a single sheet of self-adhesive label paper among the items found in the house during the search and did not present a single invoice for such items to Mr. Kurniawan (despite having invoices for wax, glue, and other items.)

4. The government presented to the jury thousands (if not tens of thousands) of main labels in uniformly cut stacks. Based on my brief opportunity for examination, the labels were consistently sized and perhaps professionally cut. The government didn't present to the jury any type of paper cutter and there was no unprinted label stock either. There wasn't anything provided to the jury at all which would explain how Rudy could produce and cut the the three-pointed shield neck labels from his home.

5. The government didn't present a single document or template from Rudy's computer that tied the labels the jury was presented in neat stacks to something actually generated on Rudy's computer.

6. Some of the language on Exhibits 1-14T, 1-20T and 1-21T strikes me as very unlikely if Rudy wrote these notes only for his own use. The language seems too lengthy for personal shorthand and there would be no reason to explain to yourself that a reminder/instruction you wrote to yourself is "very important" (as in Exhibit 1-21T
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Post #5553  Postby Bruce Leiser_owitz » December 13th 2013, 5:36pm

Don--I obviously haven't been in the courtroom to look at the evidence and listen first-hand to the testimony. But I would be relatively surprised if Rudy didn't have someone make the labels for him.
We can reasonably assume he wasn't fabricating his own corks or his own rubber stamps, so why would he make his own labels (unless, as you say, he has a high-end computer, printer, paper cutter, etc.).

Having said that, it's worth remembering that there are a number of details that some of us might be interested in that won't necessarily emerge from this trial. If the government wants to prosecute someone for selling counterfeit wine, it may not be that critical whether the fake labels were made "in house" or bought from a printing company. So there are some loose ends that the prosecution may not feel are necessary to pursue at trial, especially if you catch someone with drawers of loose labels.

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Post #5554  Postby Don Cornwell » December 13th 2013, 6:12pm

Due to being in the trial all day, and then meeting with Maureen and others afterwards, I wasn't even aware that there was some controversy about my ethics by Chris Anthony, who to the best of my knowledge I've never met. Nevertheless, to clarify the record on the points he raised:

1. I've known Paul Wasserman for more than 20 years. I invited Paul to attend the first two premox dinners held in Los Angeles in Feb. 2006 and Feb. 2007 and Paul attended both. Although Paul asked me in both years to extend an invitation to Rudy Kurniawan, I refused both times. Paul wasn't invited to and didn't attend any further premox dinners after February of 2007.

2. In June or July of 2007 I wrote a post on the Mark Squires Bulletin Board (E Robert Parker site) in a thread about the comments on counterfeit wines made by David Molyneux Berry at the Taste III Conference. Mr. Berry had reported that one unamed auction house had sold 18 magnums of 1947 Chateau Lafleur and one single consignor had sold 8 magnums of the same wine in a single sale, despite the fact that the former owner of Chateau Lafleur stated that only five magnums had been produced. People were endlessly speculating who the auction house and consignor might be. I pointed out that based on the records publicly available on two different websites the answers were quite clear -- Acker Merall was the auction house referred to and Rudy Kurniawan was the seller of the multiple magnums on the same day. Some of the people who used to routinely defend Rudy Kurniawan then jumped to his defense and attacked me -- including Mr. Wasserman. Paul wrote an extremely nasty and accusatory email to me. From that point on we never spoke or communicated again until a few days after Rudy was arrested in March of 2012. Paul formally apologized for his prior comments and attitude.

3. I did not invite John Kapon to attend any of the premox dinners. John Kapon called me and asked me if he could attend one of the premox "Mostly Montrachet" dinners that was already scheduled, which from memory (as I'm sitting in NY not LA) was either the Feb. 2007 dinner (1999 vintage) or the Feb. 2008 dinner (2000 vintage). I told John that I couldn't guarantee him a spot, but that he could attend if there was still an open spot after the others I had invited had responded and he had a wine with the requisite provenance. There was an extra seat, so he was offered the opportunity. He was not invited again thereafter.

4. I bought a few wines that couldn't possibly have been counterfeited from the Acker Internet auctions and periodically sold some wines through Acker until sometime in 2011. Following the (Ponsot) auction held on April 25, 2008 I had conversations with Mr. Kapon on May 22, 2008 and again later that year in which he told me that Acker was no longer dealing with Rudy Kurniawan at any level, that Acker would no longer sell any bottles on behalf of Rudy Kurniawan, and that in fact Acker was completely adverse to Rudy Kurniawan, had obtained a consent judgment against Rudy Kurniawan and was actively cooperating with the government in response to its subpoenas, etc. In February of 2012, at the same time I was writing about Rudy Kurniawan, Antonio Castanos and Spectrum/Vanquish, I learned about Acker's involvement in selling what in my opinion was a clearly counterfeit case of 1962 Romanee Conti in Hong Kong in December of 2011. (I have posted all of the details about that case previously on this thread.) I learned that despite what Mr. Kapon had told me, these bottles came from Rudy Kurniawan and Antonio Castanos, that Kapon was informed of this in writing by two different third party sources who had presented Mr. Kapon documentary and photographic proof for their statements, and that the statements contained in the Acker catalog that these bottles had been sitting in Switzerland since their original release was compltely false. Rather than withdraw the bottles, Mr. Kapon and Gil Lempert-Schwarz responded to the individuals reporting the Kurniawan/Castanos connection that Mr. Schwarz had spoken with Aubert de Villaine who had stated that he knew the consignor and had seen this particular case of wine and that the wines were legitimate. When Doug Barzelay and I met with Aubert de Villaine at the Paulee San Francisco in late February 2012, Aubert said he had never met or spoken to Gil Lempert-Schwarz and that he had certainly not made the statements attributed to him by Messs. Kapon and Schwarz. Shortly thereafter I wrote a letter to Mr. Kapon stating that under the circumstances, I could no longer either buy or sell wines through Acker.

Now, if it's okay, I'd like to go back to writing about what happened in the trial yesterday and today ... and my thanks to those of you watching my back.
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Post #5555  Postby KeithKW » December 13th 2013, 6:23pm

Thanks for the clarification and additional details. Much appreciated. [cheers.gif]
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Post #5556  Postby john holdredge » December 13th 2013, 6:58pm

But French is still a pimp, right??
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Post #5557  Postby WvanGorp » December 13th 2013, 7:17pm

champagne.gif [snort.gif] John, exactly. You got it right.

:-)
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Post #5558  Postby Eric LeVine » December 13th 2013, 7:42pm

john holdredge wrote:But French is still a pimp, right??

I was wondering why Todd had a new avatar. Sheesh, you spend a few hours on vacation and look what you miss!
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Post #5560  Postby Bill Klapp (deactivated) » December 14th 2013, 1:53am

I feel like Christmas came early for me with all of the "Todd the pimp" action. Well done!
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Post #5561  Postby Rudi Finkler » December 14th 2013, 7:30am

Paul Jaouen wrote:
Todd F r e n c h wrote: Another explanation is that he was using those wines as a blend with older wines - I doubt it was simply pouring an entire bottle of Marcassin in a DRC bottle and labeling it


That would be my take. Hey, some of those old burgs that supposedly had some syrah added are damn good. I would think adding Marcassin would have a similar effect.


That makes sense to me. It's just like cutting Heroin with Quinine and Strychnine... [basic-smile.gif]
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Post #5562  Postby Peter Kleban » December 14th 2013, 8:11am

NYT article on Bill Koch's testimony at the trial today. Sadly, no mention of Don or WB [cray.gif]
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Post #5563  Postby Glenn Gallup » December 14th 2013, 8:20am

And if you like your avatar .... never mind.
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Post #5564  Postby Dale Bowers » December 14th 2013, 8:40am

Peter Kleban wrote:NYT article on Bill Koch's testimony at the trial today. Sadly, no mention of Don or WB [cray.gif]

Pay site. Can't see the article
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Post #5565  Postby Izak Litwar » December 14th 2013, 8:44am

From Don Cornwell's post:

"Mr. Berry had reported that one unamed auction house had sold 18 magnums of 1947 Chateau Lafleur and one single consignor had sold 8 magnums of the same wine in a single sale, despite the fact that the former owner of Chateau Lafleur stated that only five magnums had been produced."

Were all these sold magnums provided with "bottled at chateau"? I know that at that time ('40s) Lafleur sold several cask/lots with labels to foreign buyers, among them to Aalholm Castle in Denmark. These Lafleurs bottled at Aalholm Castle were later sold at the auction in UK via Michael Broadbent.

I really hope RK spends many years in jail - he's modern day Hardy Rodenstock.
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Post #5566  Postby Peter Kleban » December 14th 2013, 8:50am

Dale Bowers wrote:
Peter Kleban wrote:NYT article on Bill Koch's testimony at the trial today. Sadly, no mention of Don or WB [cray.gif]

Pay site. Can't see the article


we have a sub, but I thought you could get a few articles per month gratis--maybe they changed that? Try going to the main webpage (nyt.com) and search "Koch"--maybe that will do it.
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Post #5567  Postby WvanGorp » December 14th 2013, 8:52am

I found it online in the NY Times under NY Metro Section. I, too, tried posting a link and it went to the subscription page. Maybe someone can figure out how to post a link.
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Post #5568  Postby ybarselah » December 14th 2013, 9:00am

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Post #5569  Postby Dale Bowers » December 14th 2013, 9:12am

ybarselah wrote:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/14/nyregion/william-koch-on-counterfeit-wine-crusade-testifies-against-rudy-kurniawan.html?smid=pl-share

Still goes to the subscription page. At least for me it does.
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Post #5570  Postby Craig G » December 14th 2013, 9:29am

Bill Klapp wrote:I feel like Christmas came early for me with all of the "Todd the pimp" action. Well done!

Sooner or later, every Klapp gets the pimp.
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Post #5571  Postby Glenn Gallup » December 14th 2013, 9:36am

Dale, you can go to the NYT front page and find the story in the section "New York". Actually there isn't much content in the story. Nothing that hasn't been explored here.
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Post #5572  Postby John O' » December 14th 2013, 10:15am

Asked if he had ever met Mr. Kurniawan, Mr. Koch said: “Never met him. Never want to meet him.”
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Post #5573  Postby John O' » December 14th 2013, 10:16am

Koch answered: “If it walks like a duck, squawks like a duck, has feathers like a duck, it’s a duck. So if the label is fake, the cork is fake, the capsule is fake, the bottle is fake, what do you think is in the bottle? There’s a 99.99 percent probability the wine is fake.”
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Post #5574  Postby Bruce Leiser_owitz » December 14th 2013, 10:24am

The NYT article link works for me.

Anyway, here's one bit from the article:

"Prosecutors now say Mr. Kurniawan blended most of the wine himself, using his exquisite palate to mix old, cheap French wines with more recent California wines, and then covering the bottles with labels that he made with his laser printer."

So if that portion of the article is accurate, then the prosecutors ARE asserting that Rudy made at least some of the labels himself with his laser printer.

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Post #5575  Postby Jody Smith » December 14th 2013, 11:21am

Don Cornwell wrote:Now, if it's okay, I'd like to go back to writing about what happened in the trial yesterday and today ... and my thanks to those of you watching my back.


Don, your commentary from the trial have made for fascinating reading. Thank you for taking the time to put down the words.

I think everyone here gets that you are not a journalist nor a lawyer in this trial, and that your commentary is just that - commentary. I don't understand why MD has such a hard on for you. I can say though that she is not helping Chai Consulting's image.

Anyway, keep up the great work. It has been fascinating to watch this saga unfold, recalling some of Rossania's and the 12 Angry Men's threads on eBob through present day.
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Post #5576  Postby Don Cornwell » December 14th 2013, 11:30am

TRIAL REPORT – THURSDAY DECEMBER 12

Six witnesses testified on Thursday. Special Agent Schmatz completed his testimony about the processing of the Kurniawan computers into image files and reviewed a few images of incomplete label files from Rudy's computer. This was followed by testimony of Laurent Ponsot, Christophe Roumier and Aubert de Villaine. The winemakers were followed by Susan Twellman, the assistant to wine collector/restaurateur David Doyle. The final witness of the day was Brian Kalliel, the sommelier at Melisse Restaurant in Los Angeles.

Laurent Ponsot

Laurent Ponsot is the manager and co-owner of Domaine Ponsot. The other owners are his three sisters. Ponsot returned to the Domaine in 1981 and took over as manager in 1992. His father ran the Domaine for the prior 35 years. Laurent’s grandfather, Hippolyte Ponsot, ran the domaine from 1922 to 1958.

Domaine Ponsot was founded in 1872 and began estate bottling in 1932. Laurent indicated that the beginning date for estate bottling was recently pushed back by two years after he had dug into the archives. He said that the entire production of Ponsot wines prior to 1932 had gone to another branch of the Ponsot family that owned restaurants in 10 cities in Northern Italy.

Laurent showed three different label styles which he said have been used over the life of the Domaine. The initial label, which was used in the thirties, was a brown and Kelly green combination. The label in use during the forties and fifties was an all brown label.

Prior to the 1985 vintage, Ponsot never sold bottles with wax capsules. In the year 1985, the domaine took all bottles older than 1970 remaining in the domaine’s cellar and recorked them and placed them under red wax capsules in boxes (unlabeled) in their winery. In the year 2000, Ponsot sold some of these older bottles at Sotheby’s auction. Aside from the 1985 vintage, the older bottles sold at the Sotheby’s auction were the only bottles with wax capsules ever sold by Ponsot. Ponsot did not use self-adhesive labels until 1989. Ponsot never sold bottles to Nicolas or to Remoissenet. Up until 1958, the bottles bore the signatures of Ponsot’s grandfather on the label.

Laurent was then shown three sets of Domaine Ponsot labels seized from the Kurniawan residence during the search (Exhibits 1-140, 1-181 and 1-304). He said none of them are authentic.

With respect to the April 25, 2008 auction sale at Acker, Laurent testified that he got a call from Doug Barzelay asking “when did you start making Clos St. Denis?” Laurent asked why Doug was asking. Barzelay explained that Acker was going to hold an auction in two days that included Ponsot Clos St. Denis from1945 to 1971. Laurent explained to Doug that Ponsot first had access to Clos St. Denis as a result of a sharecropping arrangement in 1982. Ponsot asked Mr. Barzelay to obtain photos of the bottles and send them, which he did.

Ponsot called John Kapon. Ponsot asked Kapon to withdraw the bottles of Ponsot. “Kapon said that yes he would withdraw the bottles, but it was not a ‘yes’ that I really liked. I was not confident he would really withdraw them, so I got on a plane to New York and went to the auction." When Mr. Ponsot arrived at the auction, various friends of his in the auction room told him the bottles of Clos St. Denis were there in the room ready to be auctioned. When the lot numbers assigned to the Ponsot were reached, Kapon announced that Acker was withdrawing the Ponsot lots at the request of the Domaine.

Ponsot was then shown a series of bottles that were pulled from the auction, including the 1945, 1952, 1959, 1961 and 1962 Clos St. Denis and the 1929, 1937, 1945, 1959, 1966 Clos de la Roche. He testified that none of the bottles were authentic, in some cases for multiple reasons.

He found out immediately that the consignor was Rudy Kurniawan. The following day he attended a lunch with Rudy Kurniawan, Doug Barzelay and John Kapon. According to Ponsot he asked Rudy where he got the bottles from. According to Ponsot, Rudy “watched his plate and said I don’t know. I buy so many bottles.” Ponsot said that “I knew something was bizarre. We had 84 bottles of very old Ponsot bottles that undoubtedly had sold for a lot of money. How could he not know where the wines had come from?”

According to Ponsot, Rudy was not comfortable and he avoided eye contact. Ponsot decided not to press it at the lunch. Ponsot emailed Rudy on May 16, 2008 (Exhibit 36-17) requesting Rudy to tell him who had supplied the wines. Rudy responded by email on June 5, 2008, stating that he bought the wines “from the cellar of Pak Hendra in Asia.” Ponsot said that the had never heard of anyone named Pak Hendra in Asia and that he would have reason to know since Ponsot was selling in seven different Asian countries at the time and had one or two importers in each country. None of his distributors knew the name. A friend in Singapore told him that the name Pak in Indonesian means “Mister” and that the surname Hendra was an extremely common surname.

Laurent Ponsot saw Rudy in Los Angeles in July of 2008. Rudy agreed to have dinner with Laurent. Laurent asked Rudy for more details. This time Rudy said that Pak Hendra was in Jakarta and he wrote down two telephone numbers on a piece of white paper As soon as he returned to France, Laurent started calling the phone numbers. One number was a fax number. The other number he tried several times but never got an answer. It turned out that the listed number, as of July 13, 2008, belonged to Lion Air, an Indonesian airline.

Laurent Ponsot had one further meeting with Rudy in Los Angeles in May 2009. They again met for dinner. Ponsot told Kurniawan that he couldn’t reach anyone at the phone numbers that Rudy provided, and this time was more forceful. He insisted that Rudy had to tell the truth as far as who had provided the wines. Rudy promised that he would email Ponsot the names of the people involved the following day, but he never did. Ponsot hasn’t heard from Rudy since then.

Laurent Ponsot clarified the statement attributed to him in the press about the percentage of counterfeit wines in the auction market. He said that with respect to four wines – Roumier, Rousseau, DRC and Ponsot, in his opinion 80% of the pre-1980 wines in the auction market are fake. He pointed out that with respect to Ponsot, over a 20 year period the auction houses have sold more than four times the number of magnums that the domaine made. He said that even acknowledging that a single magnum could be sold more than once, there was no way to rationalize the number.

Christophe Roumier

Christophe Roumier testified that Domaine Roumier began in 1924 when his grandfather Georges married his grandmother (maiden name: Quanquin) and received Bonnes Mares and some other vineyard holdings as a dowry. The initial domaine bottled wines were produced in 1924. Chrisotophe’s grandfather Georges was the winemaker and ran the domaine from 1924 through 1954. Christophe’s father took over in 1955.

In 1952 Christophe’s father purchased the vineyards held by Domaine Belorgey. Roumier had no access to these Bonnes Mares vineyards before 1952. Roumier testified that for years prior to 1962, the name of the winery on the label should be G. Roumier, not Domaine G. Roumier (a problem with many of the Rudy bottles).

Christophe emphasized the rarity of some of the bottles at issue. He said that the domaine has no 1924 or 1925, maybe 4 bottles of 1926 and a maximum of 80 bottles of vintages from 1959 back to 1926.

Christophe was shown a series of Roumier labels seized from Rudy Kurniawan’s residence in March 2012. On the 1959, he suggested that “the look” was close, but that the labels were not authentic. The edging on the labels was definitely different; the domaine was listed as “Domaine G. Roumier” when it should say only “G. Roumier.” Christophe emphasized that as to all of the labels the paper appeared to be “too young.” Christophe then encountered a series of Musigny labels from 1950 and 1952 that were on glossy white paper with a brown printing detail and expressed both shock and humor and said he had “never” seen anything like these labels and that they were definitely not authentic.

Christophe was then shown Exhibit 1-182, a series of labels seized from Rudy’s residence for 1923 Roumier Bonnes Mares with a notation Ancien Domaine Belorgey on the label. Christophe said that these bottles were definitely NOT authentic. Christophe pointed out that there “could not have been any production” in 1923 because there was no domain. He also pointed out that Roumier had no Bonnes Mares grapes from the former Domaine Belorgey until 1952 when his father purchased the vineyard holding from Belorgey. Christophe then reviewed a series of additional Bonnes Mares labels with the same Domaine Belorgey labels from 1934, 1936, 1937, etc. These were also all not authentic. Many of the older labels seized from Rudy were the stick on type. Christophe said that Roumier had never used them.

Christophe was next shown a series of bottles that came from The Cellar I (Jan. 2006) and The Cellar II (Oct. 2006) auctions. Christophe said that the 1923 Bonnes Mares with the Ancien Domaine Belorgey notation on the bottle was definitely not authentic for the reasons set forth above. The same was true for the 1934 and 1945 Bonnes Mares with the Domaine Belorgey notations.

Christophe attended a tasting organized by Doug Barzelay and Don Stott in January of 2007 to taste several bottles of Roumier wines purchased from The Cellar I and The Cellar II auctions. Among the wines tasted were the 1923 Bonnes Mares and 1945 Bonnes Mares with Ancien Domaine Belorgey labels. Christophe said these wines were definitely not authentic. He shared the information with the attendees that night and he made tasting notes in which he indicated that the wines were not authentic – the tannins were not correct, the alcohol level was excessive and the wine was much too rich for the Roumier BM.

Christophe Roumier first met Rudy Kurniawan at the 2008 Paulee in San Francisco. On cross-examination he was shown a photograph of a 750 ml bottle of 1934 Roumier Bonnes Mares (lacking any Ancien Domaine Belorgey notation) which had his signature. He had no recollection of signing the bottle for Rudy, but admitted that was his signature on the bottle. (DLC note: this bottle said G. Roumier instead of Domaine G. Roumier which appeared on Rudy’s labels for 1934).

On cross-examination Mr. Mooney probed for possible explanations of wines with inconsistent labels. He suggested that wines had perhaps been seized during the Nazi occupation during World War II, but Christophe said that no, no bottles were taken or seized by the Nazis during the war. He was shown two different labels of 1962 Roumier Bonnes Mares. Christophe testified that one of the bottles was a negociant label for wine they sold in barrel. He was shown two different labels of 1971 Roumier Bonnes Mares. Chistophe noted that the domaine had changed their label after 1971 and testified that, like most other burgundy domaines the bottles are unlabeled in the cellar and are labeled only at the time they are shipped. He said that the post 1971 label change explained why there were two different versions of labels for the 1971 bottles.

Aubert de Villaine

I loved the beginning of this testimony. Aubert was asked “what do you do for a living?” He responded simply “I make wine.” Aubert explained the history of the Romanée Conti vineyard, explaining that the borders of the vineyard had been recognized since at least the 13th century.

Aubert was born in 1939 and was living away from the vineyard until he turned 25, when he began working there and taking a series of courses on winemaking in Dijon. He was named co-manager of the domaine in 1973.

Aubert emphasized the extreme rarity of some of the wines of DRC. The oldest bottle that DRC has is from 1911. A single bottle of Richebourg. He explained to due to phylloxera, all of the vineyards in burgundy had been ripped out and replanted with American rootstock and grafted burgundian pinot noir except for two vineyards – Romanée Conti and a tiny portion of Richebourg owned by DRC. Due to the inability to inject carbon sulfide into the root area during WWII, these vineyards were finally overcome by the phylloxera and were pulled out after 1945. Romanée Conti produced only two barrels (600 bottles) of 1945 Romanée Conti and only 200 to 300 bottles of 1945 Richebourg Vieux Cepages. The Domaine has no bottles of either 1945 remaining in their library.

Aubert emphasized that “nothing is more rare than 1945 Romanée Conti.” He said he would be genuinely surprised if there are ANY real bottles of 1945 Romanée Conti remaining in the world.

With respect to the practice of reconditioning, Aubert explained how it works (including topping up the wines and replacing the corks and capsules and potentially the labels) and said that it requires at least 6 bottles of the same vintage in order to accomplish and that it requires sacrificing one bottle to replenish the other bottles with the same wine. He said that DRC had stopped reconditioning bottles at the domaine for its customers about 15 to 20 years ago because “it was only being done for the purpose of selling bottles or speculation.”

Aubert was then shown a series of stacks of labels of 1899, 1900, 1906, 1911, 1915 and 1933 Romanée Conti that were seized from Rudy’s house in March of 2012. Aubert testified that these were “totally extraordinary.” He explained that these are all great vintages and that “we don’t have bottles of any of these at the domaine.” Some of the labels were self-adhesive labels. Aubert stated that DRC has never used self-adhesive (stick on) labels. On cross-examination he said that DRC does have a label library but that there are several older vintages, where there are no longer any remaining bottles at the domaine, for which the domaine has no label exemplars.

Aubert was then handed 25 to 30 labels for 1945 Romanée Conti that were seized from Rudy’s home. He said that these labels “look like the correct label.” He was then shown a series of DRC Le Gaudichots labels seized from Rudy’s home from the 1899, 1900, 1906 and 1911 vintages. Aubert said that he has never seen an 1899 Gaudichots label in his life and that “if they existed it would be extraordinary.”

Aubert was next shown a label of 1945 DRC Richebourg Vieux Cepages. He explained that only 200 to 300 bottles of this wine had been produced. Mr. Hernandez then pointed out that printed on the reverse side of the 1945 label was a 1942 label for the same wine. Aubert and rest of the jury laughed. Aubert said that he was confident that DRC never produced such labels and that DRC had never printed labels on two sides.

Aubert was then asked for his opinion about the labels from Mr. Kurniawan’s home that he had been shown. He stated that “these were probably printed by a printer, but they are not our labels.” He also confirmed that DRC has never used any type of laser printer to produce its labels. (NB- I anticipate the jury will hear more about this from the government’s expert Michael Egan on Monday.)

On cross-examination Aubert was asked about Nicolas, who Aubert said was a very old French firm which had once been in the wholesale business as a negociant but had made the decision some years ago to become only a retailer. He said that for many years Nicolas had bought wines in barrel from DRC and many of the other burgundy domaines and bottled the wines themselves. He said DRC stopped selling wine to Nicolas at the end of the 1930’s.

Aubert was shown a series of photos of a bottle of 1945 Romanée Conti (Def. Exhibits B-22, B-31, B-32, B-1 and B-23) which bore his signature. Aubert admitted that it was his signature and that it was a bottle which Rudy brought to a vertical tasting of Romanée Conti held in New York. He was also shown a photo of a bottle of 1990 La Tâche which bore his signature. Aubert admitted that it was his signature but said he had no recollection of signing the bottle. Mr. Mooney suggested that Aubert had signed it at a vertical tasting of La Tâche held in New York in 2005 (NB I believe this tasting was held in California). Aubert could not recall the event but after being asked about other people attending the same tasting, including Wilf Jaeger, said that yes he recalled the La Tâche vertical. He was asked whether there were any counterfeit or suspect wines served at that dinner. He said he had no memory of any such wines but that he would have to go back to his files and check his notes to be certain. He explained that he has many times been served DRC wines which are not authentic.

On redirect examination, Aubert was asked if he would be surprised if someone told him that they had six bottles of 1945 Romanée Conti. He responded that “I would be very, very surprised. There were only 600 bottles produced and to have six bottles in one person’s hand – this would be very, very difficult to explain.”

To be continued……
Last edited by Don Cornwell on December 15th 2013, 1:43am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post #5577  Postby john holdredge » December 14th 2013, 12:42pm

Don- let me join the chorus of others thanking you for your hard work and efforts. Your trial coverage is really a fascinating read and I appreciate it.
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Post #5578  Postby ybarselah » December 14th 2013, 12:47pm

fascinating and appreciated. thank you.
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Post #5579  Postby Larry Stein » December 14th 2013, 12:52pm

Don Cornwell wrote:TRIAL REPORT – THURSDAY DECEMBER 12

On redirect examination, Aubert was asked if he would be surprised if someone told him that they had six bottles of 1945 Romanée Conti. He responded that “I would be very, very surprised. There were only 600 bottles produced and to have six bottles in one person’s hand – this would be very, very difficult to explain.”

To be continued……


There were 7 bottles in the Dr. Lucia cellar. However, that was in 1985. I saw them with my very own eyes. There were also random bottles of the other 1945 DRC reds, but no La Tache. I was told a number of bottles of La Tache were found at a relative's home in Oakland or Berkeley. That was after I had left Draper & Esquin.
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Post #5580  Postby Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow » December 14th 2013, 1:08pm

I must have missed this...is Don a correspondent for this Board at the trial? or some other entity? Or...an audience member posting his thoughts?
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Post #5581  Postby dcornutt » December 14th 2013, 3:21pm

Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow wrote:I must have missed this...is Don a correspondent for this Board at the trial? or some other entity? Or...an audience member posting his thoughts?

Stuart,
He is our unofficial correspondent. It is much appreciated too!
There is a chance that Todd the Pimp however had seduced him into being an official correspondent. :-)

Todd,
I love the Pimp gold knuckle jewelry btw.
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Post #5582  Postby alan weinberg » December 14th 2013, 3:31pm

Craig Gleason wrote:
Bill Klapp wrote:I feel like Christmas came early for me with all of the "Todd the pimp" action. Well done!

Sooner or later, every Klapp gets the pimp.

I would have said that every pimp gets the Klapp
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Post #5583  Postby Glenn Gallup » December 14th 2013, 3:51pm

All kidding aside this thread just goes from strength to strength. Thanks to Don again for sharing his observations at the trial. Great writing and a lot of insight into the trial workings. Must be difficult for Rudy to sit there every day getting figuratively hit over the head with that big hammer. I just wonder what happened to all those guys who were defending Rudy, or more properly attacking the motives of the truthseekers when I got here.
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Post #5584  Postby Peter Kleban » December 14th 2013, 3:58pm

+!, and thanks so much Don, your reporting is great reading and much appreciated.
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Post #5585  Postby WvanGorp » December 14th 2013, 4:16pm

I join in the chorus of a BIG THANK YOU to Don for the great work. We are lucky he is there and writing for us to read.

Mike Steinberger has a great write up too: http://winediarist.com/kurniawan-trial- ... ness-list/
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Post #5586  Postby WvanGorp » December 14th 2013, 4:29pm

Follow-up question after reading Mike Steinberger's piece. Allen Meadows and Aubert de Villaine signed Rudy's bottle of 1945 RC. Is there a belief this bottle was "real"....seems probable it, too, was fake if there are no bottles left at the domaine etc.
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Post #5587  Postby Tom Blach » December 14th 2013, 4:36pm

I wonder if we could get Rudy to publish the recipe? it must have been pretty good.
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Post #5588  Postby Bill Klapp (deactivated) » December 14th 2013, 5:11pm

alan weinberg wrote:
Craig Gleason wrote:
Bill Klapp wrote:I feel like Christmas came early for me with all of the "Todd the pimp" action. Well done!

Sooner or later, every Klapp gets the pimp.

I would have said that every pimp gets the Klapp


If wine is being pimped, you are correct, sir!
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Post #5589  Postby alan weinberg » December 14th 2013, 7:03pm

WvanGorp wrote:I join in the chorus of a BIG THANK YOU to Don for the great work. We are lucky he is there and writing for us to read.

Mike Steinberger has a great write up too: http://winediarist.com/kurniawan-trial- ... ness-list/
+1. great to have an attorney who knows so much about this writing daily reports.
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Post #5590  Postby Terry H a r r i s » December 14th 2013, 7:38pm

Great stuff!!
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Post #5591  Postby Keith Levenberg » December 14th 2013, 10:33pm

WvanGorp wrote:Follow-up question after reading Mike Steinberger's piece. Allen Meadows and Aubert de Villaine signed Rudy's bottle of 1945 RC. Is there a belief this bottle was "real"....seems probable it, too, was fake if there are no bottles left at the domaine etc.

Meadows and Douglas Barzelay have both gone on record saying they think it was real (Meadows by writing about in his book as the greatest wine he ever tasted, and Barzelay here. Barzelay's write-up also quotes Aubert de Villaine as seemingly expressing the view that it is real. It seems hard to believe, especially against the backdrop of Rudy having supplied multiple other fake bottles of the '45 (according to Barzelay). In this setting it was perhaps more likely that a fake would have been spotted - if the fake were some "recipe" of generic old red wine with a Marcassin booster. But if it were a genuine Romanee-Conti, just not a '45, that could easily explain how the experts were fooled.
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Post #5592  Postby Tom Blach » December 14th 2013, 11:17pm

Or possibly another great old wine. I have mentioned before the bizarrely vast array of old Patriarche bottles I saw for sale at Jakarta airport in 2007 and I remain convinced that there was a connection, perhaps this was an outlet for the rejects from a source which like many others made dreadful wines latterly but some great ones pre-war.
I'm absolutely convinced that even the most experienced palates of all are susceptible to the emotion of the moment.
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Post #5593  Postby Don Cornwell » December 15th 2013, 1:53am

Jody Smith wrote:
Don Cornwell wrote:Now, if it's okay, I'd like to go back to writing about what happened in the trial yesterday and today ... and my thanks to those of you watching my back.


Don, your commentary from the trial have made for fascinating reading. Thank you for taking the time to put down the words.

I think everyone here gets that you are not a journalist nor a lawyer in this trial, and that your commentary is just that - commentary. I don't understand why MD has such a hard on for you. I can say though that she is not helping Chai Consulting's image.

Anyway, keep up the great work. It has been fascinating to watch this saga unfold, recalling some of Rossania's and the 12 Angry Men's threads on eBob through present day.

Jody:

Maureen and I have actually recently tried to bury the hatchets and to work together professionally to deal with the continuing countefeiting. We have different approaches to things, but I definitely respect her work. She sometimes doesn't choose her words well, but at least with respect to the work we've been together recently, I know her intentions are in the right place.
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Post #5594  Postby Don Cornwell » December 15th 2013, 2:17am

TRIAL REPORT – THURSDAY DECEMBER 12 (Continued)

Susan Trellman

Susan Trellman is the assistant and business associate of David Doyle, a resident of Orange County California. Mr. Doyle is a restaurateur and owns restaurants in Australia [NB Although the restaurants weren't identified at the trial, I know this includes Rockpool, a restaurant located in Sydney with a very extensive wine list which includes 1945 Romanée Conti.]

I missed a portion of this testimony, so there are some modest gaps in my knowledge of Ms. Trellman’s testimony here. In particular, I missed the explanation as to how Ms. Trellman came to be testifying instead of David Doyle, but apparently she was directly involved in the ongoing communications with Rudy Kurniawan.

David Doyle and Susan Trellman were friends of Rudy Kurniawan. They knew him from attending tastings with him and Mr. Doyle purchased wines from him. At one point (no one around me got the date), Rudy wrote an email to David Doyle stating as follows:

    “Hi Dave

    Am just really in need of $3 mil to pay bills immediately. In real deep, deep shit. Can u help?”

David Doyle purchased a list of rare wines from Rudy Kurniawan for the sum of $3,227,000. Among the wines he purchased from Rudy were six bottles of 1945 Romanée Conti and bottles and magnums of Ponsot Clos St. Denis from the 1959, 1962 and 1971 vintages [As noted above, these Ponsot wines never existed in the real world. Government Exhibits 9-1 to 9-7, which were introduced into evidence during the testimony of James Wynne, were three magnum and three 750ml bottles of Ponsot Clos St. Denis supplied by Ms. Twellman from David Doyle’s cellar. The vintages were not specified at the time the evidence was introduced, and we weren't given the opportunity to inspect these bottles.]

Apparently at some point Mr. Doyle became aware that at least some of the wines purchased from Rudy Kurniawan were counterfeit. I missed some testimony here but since Ms Trellman referred to Mr. Kurniawan still owing David Doyle $3.2 million, I infer that Mr. Kurniawan agreed to refund the purchase, but failed to do so.

During a brief cross-examination Ms. Twellman was asked whether any of the bottles Mr. Doyle purchased were ever put on the winelist at Mr. Doyle’s restaurant [Rockpool]. Ms. Twellman testified that she didn’t know. [N.B. While this was not brought out at the trial, based on information available on the web and information provided by Paul Hanna from this Board, the correct answer appears to be yes. Rockpool offered 1945 Romanée Conti on its winelist and there was more than one bottle available. There are newspaper articles about the bottles and at least two different photographs, one of which I believe is included earlier in this thread. At my request, Paul Hanna asked Rockpool in late 2012 if he and Jeremy Holmes and the rest of their usual burgundy crew could inspect one of the 1945 Romanée Contis, but Rockpool declined].

Brian Kalliel

The final witness on Thursday was Brian Kalliel, who is the sommelier at Melisse restaurant in Santa Monica California (part of the greater Los Angeles area). Mr. Kalliel has been employed at Melisse since 1999 and has been the sommelier for the past 12 years.

Mr. Kalliel first met Rudy Kurniawan in late 2000 or early 2001 when he first came to Melisse. Rudy liked the restaurant and initially he came to dine at Melisse frequently, about once every two weeks. Kurniawan ceased dining at Melisse about three years ago

Rudy would always come with other wine collectors, usually a party of four to ten people. Rudy usually paid the tab for these dinners. Initially he brought one or two bottles of his own wines with him to the restaurant. Later that number grew to six to eight. He would typically bring white or red burgundy, or a Bordeaux and sometimes Champagne. Like other wine groups, sometimes the others brought wines as well.

Rudy instructed Mr. Kalliel that he wanted to take home all of the bottles and the corks from the wines he brought to Melisse. Mr. Kalliel would put the bottles and their corks in a box and put the box in Rudy’s car or set the box aside for Rudy to pick up later. Kalliel estimates that he gave Rudy back somewhere between 50 and 100 of the bottles (and their corks) that Rudy brought to the restaurant. Kalliel was rather bemused when he recounted that Rudy essentially instructed him never to break a cork. Kalliel said he asked Rudy why he wanted to take home all of his bottles and corks. Rudy responded that “his mother liked to save them.” Rudy’s mother came to dinner at Melisse with Rudy two or three times.

On cross-examination Mr. Mooney asked whether Mr. Kalliel had tasted the wines that Rudy brought to the restaurant, and Kalliel responded that yes when opening the wines he would taste them. He said that the bottles that Rudy brought to Melisse were representatively older vintages. Kalliel testified that the wines that Rudy brought were sometimes correct relative to what was stated on the label but also sometimes not. Mr. Kalliel was asked about an interview of him by the FBI on September 11, 2011. Kalliel testified that he recalled telling the FBI that at the end of one dinner Rudy opened six 375ml bottles of what was purported to be 1947 Cheval Blanc, but that in Kalliel’s opinion it was not 1947 Cheval Blanc in the bottles. Kalliel explained that the bottles had definitely younger corks and higher than expectable fill levels. He said that the wine in the bottle was a good wine, but it was not 47 Cheval Blanc. He also had concerns about a 1947 Chateau Lafleur that had been opened during the Petrus tasting that Rudy had hosted at Melisse.

Kalliel was asked by Mr. Mooney whether he had ever described Rudy as a “novice.” Kalliel responded: “No. I remember saying that he came on pretty quickly, but from out of nowhere. I said he had a pretty good palate.” When asked whether Rudy was able to identify wines in a blind tasting, Kalliel stated that he’d never observed that but had heard stories about it from others.

Mr. Mooney asked whether Mr. Kalliel recalled tasting a double magnum of 1982 Mouton Rothschild that Rudy brought to a dinner that actor Jacky Chan attended. Mr. Kalliel smiled and in a voice dripping with irony said “Yes. That was one of the freshest bottles of 82 Mouton I ever tasted.” Unfortunately, neither Mr. Mooney nor Mr. Hernandez followed up to clarify the meaning of Mr. Kalliel’s response.

On redirect examination, Assistant US Attorney Jason Hernandez asked Mr. Kalliel about the dinner where Kurniawan served the half bottles of 1947 Cheval Blanc. Kalliel explained that he thought it was quite strange that Rudy chose to “essentially dump” a half dozen half bottles of 1947 Cheval Blanc on the table at the end of the night after Rudy’s party had already consumed about a dozen bottles of wine. Kalliel felt that it was essentially disrespect of a really classic wine, if it had been what it purported to be.

Asked for his observations about the corks of the wines he opened for Kurniawan, he said that sometimes the corks were newer looking than they should be. Sometimes the printing on the corks didn’t quite appear correct. Sometimes Kalliel would open what purported to be a very old bottle where Kalliel would expect to find some degree of mold, but found a perfectly clean cork. Sometimes the corks were loose, suggesting a compromised seal and yet the wine in the bottles was fresh and drinkable. That didn’t make sense.

Mr. Hernandez asked if Kalliel had ever called such discrepancies to Kurniawan’s attention. Kalliel responded that he had once done so at the Petrus dinner that Rudy hosted at Melisse. Kalliel said that one of the corks he pulled was completely blank and that another had a sort of square mark on it but no printed chateau or vintage information. He said that he took Rudy aside and told him about what he found and that Kalliel didn’t think the bottles were correct. Rudy responded with an extended “P-LEASE… which I interpreted to mean that I should just serve the wines and withhold my opinions.”
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Post #5595  Postby Andrew Kaufman » December 15th 2013, 3:11am

Don well done.
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Post #5596  Postby dcornutt » December 15th 2013, 4:48am

Tom Blach wrote:Or possibly another great old wine. I have mentioned before the bizarrely vast array of old Patriarche bottles I saw for sale at Jakarta airport in 2007 and I remain convinced that there was a connection, perhaps this was an outlet for the rejects from a source which like many others made dreadful wines latterly but some great ones pre-war.
I'm absolutely convinced that even the most experienced palates of all are susceptible to the emotion of the moment.

To me this is the most fascinating angle that has yet to be discussed in detail. Maybe next week.
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Post #5597  Postby Tom Mann » December 15th 2013, 4:50am

Reading back on some old stuff on ebob, it's extremely interesting - just a further indication that stuff on the internet really does stick around for ever - the thread that Don referred to it here:

http://www.erobertparker.com/bboard/sho ... ht=lafleur
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Post #5598  Postby Tom Mann » December 15th 2013, 4:51am

dcornutt wrote:
Tom Blach wrote:Or possibly another great old wine. I have mentioned before the bizarrely vast array of old Patriarche bottles I saw for sale at Jakarta airport in 2007 and I remain convinced that there was a connection, perhaps this was an outlet for the rejects from a source which like many others made dreadful wines latterly but some great ones pre-war.
I'm absolutely convinced that even the most experienced palates of all are susceptible to the emotion of the moment.

To me this is the most fascinating angle that has yet to be discussed in detail. Maybe next week.


More than once I have heard rumours in the trade that Rudy bought a LOT of old Patriarche through a Burgundy broker.
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Post #5599  Postby Nigel Groundwater » December 15th 2013, 5:03am

Don Cornwell wrote:
Jody Smith wrote:
Don Cornwell wrote:Now, if it's okay, I'd like to go back to writing about what happened in the trial yesterday and today ... and my thanks to those of you watching my back.


Don, your commentary from the trial have made for fascinating reading. Thank you for taking the time to put down the words.

I think everyone here gets that you are not a journalist nor a lawyer in this trial, and that your commentary is just that - commentary. I don't understand why MD has such a hard on for you. I can say though that she is not helping Chai Consulting's image.

Anyway, keep up the great work. It has been fascinating to watch this saga unfold, recalling some of Rossania's and the 12 Angry Men's threads on eBob through present day.

Jody:

Maureen and I have actually recently tried to bury the hatchets and to work together professionally to deal with the continuing countefeiting. We have different approaches to things, but I definitely respect her work. She sometimes doesn't choose her words well, but at least with respect to the work we've been together recently, I know her intentions are in the right place.

Don

Really nicely put and good to see so publicly and unequivocally stated.
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Post #5600  Postby John O' » December 15th 2013, 5:09am

Keith Levenberg wrote:
WvanGorp wrote:Follow-up question after reading Mike Steinberger's piece. Allen Meadows and Aubert de Villaine signed Rudy's bottle of 1945 RC. Is there a belief this bottle was "real"....seems probable it, too, was fake if there are no bottles left at the domaine etc.

Meadows and Douglas Barzelay have both gone on record saying they think it was real (Meadows by writing about in his book as the greatest wine he ever tasted, and Barzelay here. Barzelay's write-up also quotes Aubert de Villaine as seemingly expressing the view that it is real. It seems hard to believe, especially against the backdrop of Rudy having supplied multiple other fake bottles of the '45 (according to Barzelay). In this setting it was perhaps more likely that a fake would have been spotted - if the fake were some "recipe" of generic old red wine with a Marcassin booster. But if it were a genuine Romanee-Conti, just not a '45, that could easily explain how the experts were fooled.


I have almost no experience with very old bottles. When tasting one, does one give great credit for it still being quite alive? If so, partially freshening it with a great young wine may have achieved that desired effect.
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