Webinar Interview with Stuart George of Arden Fine Wines

This webinar interview series with art world industry experts, recorded exclusively for Sotheby’s Institute of Art, reveals the stories behind decades of experience in collecting, managing and curating collections.

In this interview with Stuart George, he shares his concerns with counterfeiting in the fine wine trade and discusses some solutions available to counter this problem.

Webinar Transcript

So good day, Sotheby’s Institute students. Fine wines represent an important segment for auctioneers and have certain traits in common with artworks. To learn more I’m pleased to say that we are joined today by Stuart George, Managing Director of Arden Fine Wines, based in Mayfair. Hello Stuart!

Hello Manoj. Hello Sotheby’s students. Thank you for joining us today. The theme we are looking at is ‘genuine fakes’ and their possible correlations between authenticating works of art and bottles of fine wine.

It’s essentially the same process; firstly a visual appraisal. Increasingly these days I’m looking to utilize scientific techniques which are used much more in art than with bottles of wine at the moment but I’ve been working with an art authentication company to utilize their techniques in examining capsules, paper labels, glass bottles. These are all things that can be analyzed in a lab and can reveal things that the naked eye alone cannot see. However first and foremost you know good old-fashioned detective work can reveal a lot.

In the slide deck you can see two bottles of Petrus; the one on the left is a counterfeit that I saw at an auction in November 2019. The bottle on the right-hand side is one that was sold by Arden Fine Wines last year and at first glance and I guess to an untrained eye, well what’s the difference?, but look a bit more closely:- the bottle on the left, a fake bottle, it has a wax capsule and a very ruddy color as well. That’s not a genuine. Bottles of Petrus never have wax capsules.

Also the shape of the bottle itself:- it’s got quite steep shoulders and the bottle on the right it has a much much longer, much shallower shoulders so the bottle shape is also a giveaway. Petrus is one of the most counterfeited wines. I mean for the record that bottle is worth about four and a half thousand pounds and almost as much as a painting indeed sometimes, but that could have been a very expensive mistake if I hadn’t flagged it up to the auctioneer.

So I hope that gives a very brief insight into what it takes to flush out genuine fakes.

Okay, thank you very much Stuart. It’s been very illuminating. Have a good day. Thank you.