These days it seems as though the tool of choice for the upper echelon of the American fine-wine scene is neither a Laguiole nor a personal cellar consultant, but a lawyer. The buzz of conversation among sommeliers and wine geeks this past month has not been over the latest lower-alcohol wine from the Sonoma Coast or the effects of root days on wine-tasting events, but instead has focused on the veritable soap operas of wine unfolding in the courtrooms of America.
The biggest news by far was last week's announcement that billionaire William Koch had won a lawsuit against wine collector Eric Greenberg, whom jurors found guilty of knowingly consigning fake wines to auction, which Koch later purchased. Koch has gained notoriety as a plaintiff in many lawsuits concerning fake wine over the last decade, including one for the infamous Jefferson bottles that made Koch the central figure in Benjamin Wallace's The Billionaire's Vinegar.
Koch has won lawsuits in the past, including a default judgement against Hardy Rodenstock in absentia, and has settled out of court with Zachy's auction house on another matter, but this victory was both more decisive and more visible than his past efforts.
This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you're not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It's only £6.99 a month or £69 per year ($11/mo or $109 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.
Image by Sally Falkow
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
The Superb Grace of Old Vines: Drinking Janasse The Zinfandel Experience: January 31, San Francisco Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 4, 2015 Vinography Images: The Colors of a New Season Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 27th, 2014 Vinography Images: Rich Skies Losing a Legend in Serge Hochar Flirting with the Ecstatic: The Wines of Nikolaihof, Austria Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 20, 2014 A Grape By Any Other Name
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune