Not since the Mondavi brothers faced each other in a San Francisco courtroom has there been so much drama in the world of fine wine. Like many of my fellow pundits, I followed the trial of Rudy Kurniawan and the events that led up to it closely. Being slightly more inquisitive than your average wine geek, but unable to put my life on hold by flying to New York to attend the trial, I also read many of the daily courtroom transcripts.
The trial was possessed of a Hollywood feel even before Aubert de Villaine, Christophe Roumier and Laurent Ponsot featured on the witness list. In 2004, a young, brash wine collector bursts onto the scene and within a few years begins to move the market for the world's most collectible wines. With a penchant for the trappings of luxury and a tendency to share abundantly from his massive auction purchases of DRC, Petrus and other trophy wines, Kurniawan quickly made his way into the topmost echelons of the wine-buying world. But after a time, the cellar seemed too deep to be true, and an increasing number of suspect bottles became traceable to Kurniawan. Increasingly desperate for funds to pay his debts and support his lifestyle, but with fewer outlets willing to accept his wares, Kurniawan convinced others to consign his wines for him.
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