The Current

ENCORE: Sour Grapes documentary uncorks high-end world of fine wine fraud

The documentary, Sour Grapes uncorks the biggest wine fraud in history. It's a story of astronomically wealthy, an obsession with fine wines worth tens-of-thousands of dollars and the con man who duped them all.
Sour Grapes documentary pulls back curtain on one of the biggest wine frauds in history. (Sour Grapes Film)

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Wine aficionados are beholden — if not intoxicated — by a vintage bottle of grape juice.

For some, it's beyond a hobby — it's an obsession.

Pair that passion with a sizable bank account and you can gain access into the rarefied world of the fine wine collector. 

It's a world explored in the documentary, Sour Grapes, with a roster of fascinating characters, including a con man, Rudy Kurniawan — rumoured to be a wine savant  — mastering the biggest wine fraud in history. He sold millions of dollars worth of wine to an elite clientele in New York and Los Angeles — until suspicions arose that something was "off."

Sour Grapes directors Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas spilled the secrets of the astronomically wealthy and their obsession with collecting fine wines with The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti in May.

"Rudy specialized in buying Burgundy so, you know in a way, he was kind of cornering the market in Burgundy and that helped the price increase even more," Rothwell tells Tremonti. "In one year, in 2006, he sold $35 million worth of wine."

Rothwell says that when the FBI raided Kurniawan's house, they found 17,000 labels and bottles soaking in the sink to soak the labels off, capsules and corks," says Rothwell.

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this post.

How much would you spend on a bottle of wine? (Sour Grapes film)

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and Sarah Grant.