Fake and counterfeit wines - Investigation series: Chateau L'Angélus 1970 and the "L" of Angélus
Fabien Pizzinat posted the following picture...
|Fabien Pizzinat picture of a rather peculiar Chateau l'Angélus 1970 |
bottled by negociant Philippe Serrande & Co.
For those of you who may not know what it is, a Négociant Label is a label that has not been designed, chosen and labeled by or at the property, but by the Négociant. In short, for the last 400 years, Négociants (French, English, Dutch, Belgian, Swiss, Irish, etc...) used to buy barrels directly at the property, then shipped the barrels to their warehouse (either in France or in their own respective country) to age, bottle and label the wines, prior selling them, often under their own label, rather than the Chateau label (if any).
However, getting back to Fabien's post, the various comments to his posts were very interesting and some very pertinent, yet it seems that nobody had a clear answer.
|Time to investigate © LeDomduVin 2018|
A. The Label
|Chateau L’Angélus 1970 Original Label © LeDomduVin 2018|
|Drawing - Details of Fabien Pizzinat's picture of the rather peculiar bottles |
of Chateau l'Angelus he just acquired (1/2)
|Collegiate cloister of Saint-Emilion © LeDomduVin 2013|
|Saint-Emilion Church's Bell Tower (Le Clocher) © LeDomduVin 2013|
|Logo - Details of Fabien Pizzinat's picture of the rather peculiar bottles|
of Chateau l'Angelus he just acquired (2/2)
... even this old picture of Chateau L'Angélus dating from the 1930s (below), courtesy of Wikipedia, shows that the logo of Chateau L'Angélus has always been a carillon bell... not some kind of "wolf" or "lion" atop of a Chateau with some kind of shape in the middle that could represent a bell.... (it does look like a wolf, doesn't it?) (so, even if it is a Négociant label, why designing a label so far from the original?...)
|Old picture of Chateau L'Angélus dating from the 1930s, courtesy of Wikipedia|
8. The Appellation is "Saint-Emilion", which is fine, yet, the "Grand Cru Classé" classification is not mentioned on this Negociant's label, which is really surprising knowing that Chateau L'Angélus was classified as "Grand Cru Classé" in the classification of the wines of Saint-Emilion in 1955 and in 1969 (*), and therefore, even if it is "supposedly" a Négociant label (which I have a really hard time to believe it is), it should mention "Grand Cru Classé", but it does not..... (...a major detail omitted by mistake by the Negociant? again?)
As previously mentioned, prior to 1967 (when bottling at the chateau became officially mandatory in Bordeaux), some négociants / wine merchants were still buying barrels from the Chateaux, aging, bottling and labeling the wines themselves in their warehouses in Bordeaux (or even elsewhere like UK, Belgium, Holland, etc...), and we can distinguish 2 types of Négociant's label.
1. The additional label:
Instead of using their own label, some Négociants kept the original label from the Chateau and just added their name either directly on the original label or on an additional label (generally just below the original label). Here are 2 examples of an additional label below the main original label.
|Chateau Latour 1945 aged and bottled by Louis Eschenauer (Bordeaux) © LeDomduVin 2016|
|Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1947|
with the additional label of "Sichel & Co." © LeDomduVin2018
Here are 3 examples of Negociant's Label:
|Chateau L'Angelus 1966 aged and bottled by A. de Luze (Bordeaux)|
Or this label of Chateau Pedesclaux 1957 aged and bottled by Grafé Lecocq (Belgium), a Belgium Négociant house established in 1879 by Henri Grafé and his wife Léontine Lecocq, specialized in aging themselves wines bought in bulk from French estate in Bordeaux (predominantly) but also from other regions.
|Chateau Pedesclaux 1967 aged and bottled by Grafé Lecocq (Namur, Belgium) © LeDomduVin 2018|
Or even this rare label of Chateau Petrus 1947 aged and bottled by J. Vandermeulen-Decanniere (Ostende, Belgium), a Négociant house that was really active for roughly about 60 years between the late 1890s to 1955, and specialized in buying barrels directly at the property, having access to the barrel cellars of some of the best Bordeaux-Châteaux and Burgundy domains, then shipping these barrels to Ostende to let the wines mature in their warehouse, sometimes for even longer than they will have been aged at the Chateaux (3-5 years), prior bottling and labeling the wines with their own labels.
|Chateau Petrus 1947 aged and bottled by J. Vandermeulen-Decanniere (Ostende, Belgium) © LeDomduVin 2018|
Yet, looking at this 1970 Angélus label again, it seems to me that they are too many awkward details to believe that these bottles are real. And if they are, the negociant who bottled and labeled them, supposedly called "Philippe Serrande & Cie." really did a poor job with this label. The work of an amateur I should say with no respect for the brand or the name of the owner (if this label is real that is).
|Château Mouton Rothschild 1924 - Jean Carlu label © LeDomduVin 2018|
|French Antique Wine Corker "La Meilleur", |
Paris, early 20th century - photo courtesy of www.1stdibs.com
|Bottling Belt © LeDomduVin 2013|
B. The Négociant
|Diverse Philippe Serrande & Cie Labels found on Google - Collage by LeDomduVin 2016|
I'm not saying anything, but don't you find it strange that
- No data or info can be found about this specific Négociant
- No availability whatsoever of these bottles on the French, UK or even HK Markets (which are nowadays the hubs of older vintages wines)
- Only availability through unknown online auction houses (moreover Chinese ones...?!?)
- Without even talking about the few awkward details on the labels
- And no records kept by the Chateau (as Jean-Bernard Grenié is not even aware this particular Negociant's name)
|Chateau l'Angélus 1964 - photo courtesy of www.dognyauction.ch|
|Chateau l'Angélus 1964 - photo courtesy of www.cellartracker.com|
I mean, look at both labels closely, they have nothing to do with one another.. "because it is a Negociant's label" I hear you say... well, maybe... (Chateau l'Angelus at Pomerol is also a strange story... but this could be the subject of another post in the near future maybe....)
I will stop my investigation here for time constraint reasons and more especially for lack of information and historical facts about this Négociant and the type of business he was conducting and when.
Verdict: Fake... until someone proves me wrong and gives me proofs and facts that will "eventually" change my mind
The market is still flooded with fakes and counterfeits bottles of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, and it is up to the responsibility of people like me, dealing daily with wine inspection and authentication, to expose and denounce them, try to investigate to uncover the culprit if possible, and if not, to at least point the finger at the imitations and free the markets from this abominations.
- Fake wine bottle/label = a wine and/or a label that is not genuine; a forgery or sham, created to look alike or have similarities with other known wines from the same regions to deceive people into a scam (like the example above, which is potentially a fake wine, and more especially these 2 examples below which are totally fake - seen in China)
|Fake DRC Romanee Conti White|
|DRC label imitation Chateau Lacaunette Le Prince du Roi - Fake wine © LeDomduVin 2016|
|Pacurs instead of Petrus - Fake Wine|
- Counterfeit wine bottle/label = made as an exact imitation of a valuable bottle of wine with the intention to deceive or defraud someone (like the bottles and labels of Rudy Kurniawan below for example)
|Rudy Kurniawan fake labels|