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Summary

Few gain entry to the privileged world of ultrafine wines, where billionaires flock to exclusive auction houses to vie for the scarce surviving bottles from truly legendary years. But Rudy Kurniawan, an unknown 20-something from Indonesia, was blessed with two gifts that opened doors: a virtuoso palate for wine tasting and access to a seemingly limitless (if mysterious) supply of the world's most coveted wines.

After bursting onto the scene in 2002, Kurniawan quickly became the leading purveyor of rare wines to the American elite. But in April 2008, his lots of Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis red burgundy - dating as far back as 1945 - were abruptly pulled from auction. The problem? The winemaker was certain that this particular burgundy was first produced only in 1982.

Journalist Peter Hellman was there, and he would closely investigate as a singular cast of characters - including a Kansas-born billionaire, a wine-loving young prosecutor, and a crusty FBI agent - worked to unravel the biggest con in wine history. Whether driven by the love of wine or of justice, all were asking the same question: Was the mild-mannered Kurniawan himself a dupe? Or had one young man - with little experience and few connections - ensnared the world's top winemakers, sellers, and drinkers in a web of deceit?

©2017 Peter Hellman (P)2017 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Heady, intoxicating...shines a light on the esoteric and intriguing world of ultrarare, ultrafine wines." ( Foreword)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great tale let down by a few meanders and patchy French pronunciation

Having watched the "Sour Grapes"
movie about this fraud case I was itching to learn more detail about how Rudy Kurniawan pulled off such a con. And how he was caught.

There is a little too much back story for me - lots of detail and stories about Burgundian winemaking families that I wasn't too interested in (and skipping an audiobook is harder than a physical copy). I think I was 2 hours in before Rudy fully enters the frame.

It is let down by the narrator - could he not have got a bit more help with the French words? I am studying for a wine qualification and was taking notes but I struggled to grasp some of the names (vineyards and villages) in the book. Actually I struggled with some and was just plain irritated by others! It's not Clos Sonn Denis, It's not Chamberton!

However it is still an engaging true story if you are interested in wine and crime!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathryn
  • 17-09-17

Great Read Especially for Wine Lovers

Very intriguing story! Enjoyed the comparison to Jay Gatsby and insight into the world of rare wine trading.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • clotilded
  • 21-04-18

well narrated and respectful of the real persons i

great story, lots of things learnt here about rare wines. i like the story is respectful of every character while informing on what was done illegally and in ignorance. looking forward for this book tobe translated in french so i can offer it to my family.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nashville spokes
  • 30-10-17

details of international intrigue

I think more information about the international money-laundering efforts by the family would have been a little bit more interesting.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful