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More: Lawsuit Reveals That Savanna Samson’s Husband Allegedly Peddled Pricey Wine Fakes

Interesting how the NY Post let a good story like this slip under its nose…

from – “Daniel Oliveros [Savanna Samson’s hubby] and Jeff Sokolin were known as the ‘sexy boys’ because they often described the wines they sold as ‘sexy juice.'”

So begins Slate wine columnist Mike Steinberger’s long investigative piece into the latest scandal in the wine world. Oliveros and Sokolin run a Manhattan wine shop, Royal Wine Merchants, that sold the most coveted bottles — Petrus ’21, Cheval Blanc ’49 — for thousands of dollars. But it appears that in many cases, they were selling counterfeits.

That’s what billionaire Bill Koch alleges in a lawsuit — just one of many the energy tycoon has filed since he began collecting wine. The source of the suspect bottles was a German wine collector-seller named Hardy Rodenstock, whom Koch has clashed with before.

In fact, Koch’s lawsuit against Rodenstock, who sold him fraudulent bottles that he claimed belonged to Thomas Jefferson, was the source of a recent book, “The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine,” by Benjamin Wallace.

That there’s fraud in the wine business is no longer surprising. But increasingly, the revelations are sullying some of the wine world’s most respected names.

Michael Broadbent, who headed wine sales at Christie’s auction house, vouched for the so-called Jefferson bottles. And Steinberger makes clear that the world’s most famous wine critic, Robert Parker, was (at the very least) used by Oliveros and Sokolin, who would share their purported rarities with Parker, whose ratings could drive the price even higher.

(Steinberger writes that it’s unclear whether Parker himself was offered fakes; the two scammers could have given Parker the real thing, and the pawned off counterfeit wine on their customers.)

For whatever reason, Steinberger doesn’t mention the recent case of Rudy Kurniawan, another high-flying counterfeiter who has disappeared from the wine world (and apparently from the United States) since Koch filed suit against him last year, though the fact that he had plenty of material to work with without mentioning him just shows how rampant wine fraud has become. What’s most discomfiting is that it’s taking a litigious outsider like Koch to expose the fraud, which many in the wine world would rather not came to light.


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