Wine Forgery and True Wine Crime with Pete Hellman

Pete Hellman Unreserved Wine Talk Podcast Natalie MacLean


Peter Hellman is a New York-based wine journalist and best-selling author. His writing has appeared in Wine Spectator, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, New York Times, New York Sun and his bestselling books include In Vino Duplicitas: The Rise and Fall of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire and Chief!: Classic Cases from the Files of the Chief of Detectives and When Courage Was Stronger than Fear. Peter started writing about Rudy Kurniawan in 2008 and has covered the story ever since.

In this episode, Pete shares with us why wine makes a good candidate for forgery and how he landed on the story of Rudy Kurniawan and several fantastic stories and experiences from over the years, and so much more!



  • What makes wine such an attractive candidate for forgery?
  • How did Pete’s eventful first-hand experience at a wine auction in 2008 push him into pursuing the bigger story behind the scenes of Rudy Kurniawan?
  • What made Lauren Ponsot so adamant about halting the sale of the counterfeit Domaine Ponsot wines at that 2008 auction?
  • The Rudy Kurniawan story had a lot of heroes. How did they become involved?
  • What did Bill Koch’s investigators uncover about Rudy Kurniawan’s background?
  • How did Rudy Kurniawan’s expertise help him to enter the circles of industry leaders and wealthy wine collectors?
  • What was the story behind Rudy Kurniawan’s sale of 7 counterfeit bottles of one the most sought-after Burgundies to an industry titan for over $14,000 each?
  • What’s Pete’s take on the documentary, Sour Grapes?
  • Why is it so hard to get authentic wines from the 19th century?
  • What’s the one special wine which Pete is especially proud to have in his cellar?
  • Is wine a good investment option?




You can also watch this episode’s Video Chat with Pete that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.


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