The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Italian police find 9,000 bottles of fake Moët champagne

rsz_moët_et_chandonItalian financial police have hailed the discovery of more than 9,000 bottles of fake Moët & Chandon champagne in a shed in the countryside near Padova as one of the most significant seizures of counterfeit bubbly in Europe.

The Guardia di Finanza estimated the illicit loot would have been worth about €350,000 (£266,534), but could have earned the alleged counterfeiters more than €1.8m had they been able to use 40,000 fabricated Moët & Chandon labels that were also discovered.

Police in Padova said an analysis of the supposed champagne revealed it was sparkling table wine.

The seizure happened late last year but was announced last week. Financial police in Padova who were examining a separate business happened to come across a bottle of champagne with a label on it that lacked a manufacturing serial number.

The proliferation of counterfeit luxury goods is a known problem for fashion houses such as Prada and Louis Vuitton. But the Padova news signalled it is also a significant issue for the world’s top champagne producers.

In France, the Comité Champagne is tasked with protecting the name “champagne” against counterfeiting and misuse by other entities. On its website, the group says that as part of its anti-counterfeit policy it oversees a global network of champagne bureaus and provides customs authorities worldwide with information on how to distinguish counterfeit products.

The Italian police said eight people with criminal backgrounds had been found in the shed where the fake bottles were being produced. Police also said they found “interesting documentation” after home searches, and that the investigation into the counterfeit bottles was continuing, zeroing in on the source of the sparkling wine and other materials.

The wine itself is not going to waste. Police said that, in accordance with other legal authorities, the bottles had been donated to “associations” working in the Veneto, the home of prosecco, Italy’s answer to French champagne.