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Fake Oz wine on the increase

Published:  23 July, 2008

David Yunghanns of Wingara Wine Group has warned that fake versions of top Australian wines are on the increase.

The chief executive of the Melbourne-based company was speaking in the wake of an out-of-court settlement with The Australian Salvage Wine Company, a firm that had allegedly been selling a version of Wingara's 2002 Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon at a vastly reduced price.

As long as there's a surplus, there will be people without morals or scruples who want to make a quick buck,' said Yunghanns. These sorts of company are springing up all over the place at the moment.'

The problem is particularly hitting boutique wineries because fraudsters are taking advantage of wines that sell at a higher price by trumpeting apparent reductions on websites and by mail.

The fake Katnook was discovered by an employee of the national chain Dan Murphy. A customer showed the Salvage Company product and demanded the store sell Katnook at the same price, A$12, rather than the usual retail mark of A$46.

The Australian retail market has stocked cleanskins' for the past 50 years - bottles with little information other than alcohol content and servings per bottle, the legal minimum. However, while previously producers merely rid themselves of lesser-quality wine, now named replicants are appearing in growing numbers.

Yunghanns defended his decision not to go to court on the basis that publicity would be limited. It's more important that people in the trade are aware of this problem.'