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02.26.2006

Look For The High Priced Hologram

I love Brunello. I really do. These Sangiovese based wines of Tuscany have a special place in my heart and when well made, can be utterly absorbing and fantastic. However, they have become in the last 10 years, increasingly overpriced. Perhaps they are following the popular lead of Barolo, which has become consistently the highest priced wine in Italy. Regardless, it's hard to find a decent Brunello these days for under fifty or sixty bucks, making what was once the hearty red of Tuscan farmers now the crystal decanted collectors' wine.

And now, it seems, this high-priced wine is now going to have expensive fraud detection. Billed as a "High tech innovation used to protect wine's authenticity" Brunello producers can now seal their wines with holographic images built into the foil caps. I have a hard time figuring out why this is really necessary. Perhaps some Tuscan producer can chime in here and tell me that their sales have taken a nosedive recently due to a flood of fake Brunello flooding the market, but last time I checked, fraudulent versions of this relatively small production wine (in the scope of many appellations in Italy) wasn't really an issue.

So barring any significant threat to authenticity, these shiny little additions to bottles seem like just the next great wine gadget. There's nothing wrong with that of course -- I'm all for experimentation with technology -- but I can't help think that this high tech addition to every bottle comes with a corresponding increase in price. Winemakers may be investing in this technology, but they expect their wine sales to generate a return on that investment, and barring larger production levels, or cheaper production costs, the only way to make that happen is to raise prices.

So I ask my Italian friends: do you really need a hologram on your wine?

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Comments (2)

Susingeshi wrote:
02.27.06 at 5:59 PM

Alder,

Is the hologram wrap supposed to benefit the consumer, distributor, and/or the vineyard itself?? Cause', like, I'm thinkin'...the "average" consumer wouldn't have a clue whether or not their wine bottle's holographic image was authentic or not. However, holograms could be thought of as eye-catching, and they have been used as a protective mechanism on many important products. This sounds to me like a marketing "genius" at work... Whatever the case...it made for an interesting post, as usual. I really enjoyed reading about the Kizakura Sake, and the ensuing comments. Thanks again, Susingeshi

Alder wrote:
02.28.06 at 6:43 PM

Susingeshi,

The idea, I believe, is to benefit the consumer the winery and the region. The winery and the region benefit from not having fake Brunello on the market which might lead to lower demand, and the consumer theoretically benefits from a better guarantee of authenticity. But when was the last time you heard of anyone being worried about getting a "fake" Brunello? Not really a problem as far as I can tell. So all they are doing is adding to the cost of every already expensive bottle.

Luckily it's not a mandatory thing, so wineries can choose whether to use these holograms or not.

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