Sour Grapes: a vintage con

Rudy's collection being destroyed by the US Marshals. Photo by Lynzey Donahue / US Marshals

Rudy’s collection being destroyed by the US Marshals. Photo by Lynzey Donahue / US Marshals

A couple of Fridays ago, I got home from the cinema, whipped out my laptop and started feverishly googling. Urgently typing, I was desperate to spread the good word, buzzing from a new documentary I’d seen. Yep – until that moment, I knew I was nerdy, but hadn’t quite realised the levels to which my geekery stretched.

For a while I’ve had a weakness, an almost-obsession with wine’s dark and dangerous side, a fascination with the murky backalleys, auction rooms and websites that are home to the industry’s fraudulent face. Reading Rudy Kurniawan’s story in the papers got me hooked; The Billionaire’s Vinegar reeled me in; and before I knew it I was a Maureen Downey groupie.

The “Wine Detective” (as dubbed by Decanter), the powerhouse of a woman leading the crusade against counterfeits, was – of course – one of the main characters to feature in Sour Grapes, the new documentary that had me ablaze.

Of course, the opportunities surrounding the film had not slipped by Maureen and her team, with a perfectly timed press release announcing authentication workshops in Hong Kong and London. But, back to the film…

If you haven’t yet been drawn into the murky underworld of wine, this is the film to do it, leaving you fascinated by – in lead investigator Brad Goldstein’s words – “the elegance of the hustle”. Focusing on Rudy Kurniawan, the people he fooled and those who caught him, it’s truly captivating. Find out more about the film (and read the results of feverish Friday night typing) in my piece on here.


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