Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Same Wine, Different Labels

Posted by JonDerry, Dec 23, 2015.

Anyone care to play a little sleuthing game? Why are these labels different for the same wine?

With all the fake wine out there these days, especially in Burgundy and Bordeaux, folks are a little anxious about Rudy era bottles. 

 

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Replies

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Reply by duncan 906, Dec 23, 2015.

Perhaps one bottle has been subjected to more light than the other or the labels were from different batches or reels?

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 23, 2015.

Obviously different importers. That's the biggest hint there. Labels are very often different depending on the customer--especially, but not exclusively  from Europe to the US. These two are very similar, but obviously the Seattle importer cares about imparting even a tad more info on the front label, whether or not that's required by the state.

Assuming you open them at the same time, would be interesting to hear if there is any bottle variation.

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Reply by EMark, Dec 23, 2015.

I am inclined to go with Duncan's idea that these different labels came from two different production runs.

I notice that one on the right--i.e., the front label with more verbiage--displays the alcohol level very prominently.  I cannot see the ABV on the other one.  Of course, it may be printed in very tiny font or with low contrast ink. So, it may be difficult to find or see in a photograph.  If it is not there, I'm wondering if this label was printed for use in another country that does not require ABV disclosure.  If the ABV is not on that label, or on the back label, then, from the fact that it was imported to the US, by a US-based importer, it is a mistake.

I know I'm graping at straws, but that's all I got.

Are the labels affixed by the importer?  The different production runs might explain that.

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Reply by JonDerry, Dec 23, 2015.

True, different importers explain the difference on the back labels. These were both imported into the States, but the importer was not involved in the front label discrepancy. I believe that needs to be controlled at bottling by the producer for quality control, integrity, etc.

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 23, 2015.

Both front and back labels can be done in batches at origin. The 'added' label I saw was the QR-code back sticker for the Beverly Hills retail spot.

My money goes on that the other labels were applied in Burgundy, not WA or CA, though I'm not giving odds. An alternative case could be made for the labels being printed in two (or three) locations, thus resulting in the different paper shading that Duncan noted. Fonts are an extremely close match which could represent shared files, but the leading in the lower half of the back labels is not a perfect match. Certainly the US is a huge market for Mugnier, so unless there are many other importers across the States their customizing labels for the recipients is not economically outrageous.

Either way you cut it, two importers in two states mean two label batches.

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Reply by WineCrime, Dec 24, 2015.

The left wine is bottled by American born negociant Beck Wasserman in Baune (the barcode is her's).

The right wine is bottled for Becky Wasserman by Jacques Frederik Mugnier (the wine maker) at his Chambolle Musigny chateau. Mugnier has left the barcode off for the importer to add their own. 

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Reply by outthere, Dec 24, 2015.

Thanks 1928966! Seriously JD, who would counterfeit a $90 bottle of wine? They use the $90 bottles as the fakes for the $1,500 offerings.

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 24, 2015.

Thanks, 1928966. Assuming you're in the business?

So both sets of labels are glued to the bottle in Burgundy. One version is for wine bottled by the vigneron, then provided to the negotiant for shipment to at least one importer in America, while the other is for wine bottled by the negotiant herself with juice from the vigneron that is not yet bottled, and this is sent to at least one other American importer. Is that correct?

Which raises the questions of why and how the two different versions are determined. Not that this is at all a unique setup in Burgundy, of course...

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Reply by outthere, Dec 24, 2015.

Which raises the questions of why and how the two different versions are determined. Not that this is at all a unique setup in Burgundy, of course...

Likely by local labeling laws.

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Reply by dmcker, Dec 24, 2015.

Not just a labeling issue, but also a bottling (perhaps even blending??) one. Another question is how many importers in the States received product...

 

BTW, Brian, Merry Christmas. 12:15am on the 25th over here.

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Reply by outthere, Dec 24, 2015.

Thanks David, I had noticed earlier on the Norad Feed that you had already been paid a visit. Peace to all this and every subsequent year!

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Reply by JonDerry, Dec 24, 2015.

$90 I wish! I believe the market price is over $700, though it was brought up that why would a counterfeiter choose 2006, they would be much more likely to do so with an '05.

Interesting points made about the importers, etc. though I truly believe, as does Peter Wasserman, that the answer as to why the front labels differ is much more simple, and something I can relate to in my own business.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 24, 2015.

I think the importers received slightly different labels because one of them just started carrying it and one carried it already.  (Or, in any case, they have carried it different amounts of time.) You can re-use existing labels much more easily than getting a new one approved by the BTT, so you might opt to leave stuff off or continue to put it on simply so it doesn't change.  The winery might be using a different label now but preserving the old one for the existing account to save them trouble.  I look at the capsule and both appear to be the same, so I don't buy the "bottled for" vs. "bottled by"  distinction, in spite of the very confident statement of our new correspondent. Don't underestimate the hassle of changing a label's content and getting a "new" one approved.  Fact is, lots of winemakers don't change the ABV even when they know it might be off because that's rarely tested, but changing even that part of the label can be a hassle. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 24, 2015.

The Veritas is a fake.  The label on the back says "Beverly Hill."  Scan the barcode and see what happens!

Actually, that one lacks the English words, Red Burgundy Wine, which means it was made for the Euro market, and it might have come in through a grey market importer, might have been bought not from Wasserman or a regular channel, but from a private collector, or from a retailer over there, not imported by an official importer.  JJBuckley does that all the time, because prices can be cheaper or they can get stuff they wouldn't have access to.  With a strong dollar (and subsidies in Europe for wine at retail), there could be even more of that going on right now. 

Reputable makers no longer make separate production runs.  All wines of a type are bottled at the same time.  Used to be that makers, especially in France, would bottle some product, sell it, and then bottle more and sell some more.  Quality varied, barrels got topped with heaven only knows. AOC rules and, yes, popular critics like Parker put an end to that.  However, the bottles that sit around the winery aging in bottle won't be labeled at the time--saw tons of this in Piedmont--because the labels could be scuffed unless it was crated up, which takes more space.  They put it in big wire containers, then label it when it's going to go to market.  They can label it as needed, so it wouldn't be a big deal to have different labels if one importer bought later than another.  But I do think the lack of English on the one that also has Beverly HIlls misspelled is pretty interesting. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 24, 2015.

And, yes, I looked up that bottle, and it can be found for $700, but even so that's close to $1500 of wine.  Yikes.

And Happy Xmas to David!  Almost forgot to say it!

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Reply by outthere, Dec 24, 2015.

Oops! I just glanced at the bottles and didn't pick up the designate. My bad.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 24, 2015.

I just found it in Europe for the equivalent of about $400 and change, which supports the idea that someone is buying it over there and slapping their own label on it.  Or it could be a Rudi K like job. That is the danger when you are buying stuff at those prices.  Not a problem for me.  (Waiting for someone to counterfeit Halcon!)

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Reply by JonDerry, Dec 24, 2015.

Lots of good ideas Fox, especially about an additional importer getting in later in the game and that because the capsules are the same, the producer is almost definitely applying the front labels. I would expect they are applying the back labels too as you can see they have that same branding design (grey leaves) along the bottom of the back labels, though I suppose they could be Wasserman Selection labels, have not looked at other bottles from their portfolio.

I'll come back later with what appears to have happened with the front labels, though I don't think it involves the BTT as Id expect them to be familiar enough with Mugnier bottles coming over for there not to be such a hitch, and for other reasons. 

Merry Christmas!

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Reply by WineCrime, Dec 24, 2015.

My identity 1928966 is given by Snooth. My name is Nick Bartman. Google my name with "wine" and you will see who I am.

Anyway, I'm NOT saying this wine is fake, because it is not. Both Ms Wasserman and Mugnier are far too respectable to be involved with fakes. 

This is a simple matter:

Wasserman buys some wine in bulk from Mugnier to bottle (as she does with many wines) to ship to the USA. These wines naturally have her barcode.

However, the wine that is bottled by Mugnier has "Mis en bouteille au chateau" as we all know is French for "Put in the bottle at the chateau". Mugnier can print this, Wasserman cant because she buys in bulk and does not bottle at Mugnier's chateau.

For whatever ever reason, Mugnier bottles some wine for Wasserman, and Wasserman bottles some of Mugnier's wine herself. This is absolutely not uncommon in France, or the remainder or wine Europe, for that matter.      

Another point: you will note we cant read all the words on the capsule because whomsoever posted this challenge decided to twist the capsule so we cant read all the words. So, we cant say both capsules have the same words.  

Now, open this link, and others, and you will see a clear picture of Mugnier's original label http://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=1464018

So to summarize: both wines are original. 

We were all asked to be sleuths. Whomsoever posted this challenge asked us to decipher the situation. There was no suggestion either wine was NOT from originally from Mugnier.  

Finally, I'm not the oracle but I torpedoed many a Chinese wine counterfeiter for screwing up on this type of detail, and equally saved people like Mugnier and Wasserman from legal attack by working through detail and history. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 24, 2015.

I agree that the wine is not (likely) counterfeit, although it's not (ever) the makers who counterfeit--it's someone else. That's what makes it counterfeit.  Surely as the sleuth you understand it wasn't DRC that counterfeited their wine, or Ponsot, or any other manufacturer.  It was Rudi.  And "Hardy Rodenstock," and a lot of other people.  The more reputable the manufacturer (reputable meaning have a good reputation, yes?), the more they are a target of a counterfeiter. 

But I am willing to bet (JD, solve this) that both capsules say Mis en bouteille au chateau.  While it's true that Becky (typo in your first post) Wasserman  bottles as well as buys bottled wine, I don't think that's the answer here--I think it's either that one importer was already using a particular label, or that one was bought from a source that wasn't originally an importer.  More likely that the importers have received approval at different times, and one label is legacy and can't be changed.  Mr. Bartman makes an assumption that the wines have different capsules with no basis, but we can answer that easily enough. 

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