The mystery of the fake Tignanello and the Sassicaia counterfeiting operation

16 Dec, 2020

It seems unreal, but after all the troubles this market went through, wine fraud is still an extensive issue! According to a study conducted by the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Right Office), counterfeit spirits and wine cost the European economy € 2.7 billion a year. (1) Additionally, it is estimated that legitimate wine and spirits sales are reduced by almost 7%, due to counterfeit goods, with illicit trade in wine and spirits resulting in the loss of over 7,000 jobs and € 2.2 billion in tax revenues. (2) However, if statistics are based on estimates, and therefore subject to interpretations, facts are facts, and these remain.

The first fact is that on October 14th 2020 the Italian police discovered and dismantled a counterfeit operation worth 400,000 euros per month in revenues. (3) This consisted the production of fake Sassicaia, a Tuscan wine considered among the best in the world that sells for hundreds of euros per bottle. To do that, the fraudsters bottled inferior wine from other Italian regions using meticulously reproduced labelling and cases from Bulgaria.

The second fact is even more recent and dates to the first days of November 2020. Tannico, one of the giants of wine e-commerce in Italy, publishes a picture on one of its social media to promote the Tignanello, the famous super Tuscan wine produced by Antinori. In one of the first comments a user complains about having received a fake bottle. In the attached picture it’s clearly visible that the label of the wine sold by Tannico is smaller than the original. However, probably that was not visible enough for who oversees the most valuable incoming supplies.

Given this whole situation is it still convenient to ignore the problem and to leave your wines exposed to the (high) risk of being counterfeited? Some Bordeaux wineries now mark their labels with a special ink that is only visible through ultraviolet light, making it very hard to reproduce their products. This measure, however, only protects the packaging and not its content. In this case the platform developed by Authena comes in support. Its technology prevents even the most sophisticated counterfeiting methods such as fraudulent refilling. In fact, thanks to a revolutionary IoT & blockchain secured seal to be applied on each single bottle, Authena is able to inform collectors and wine lovers on the integrity of the products they purchase. The physical-digital product seal can be read by any modern smartphone and contains a unique and encrypted digital passport that grants authenticity and full traceability. Finally, the same anti-counterfeiting solution enables a two-way communication between producers and consumer, offering marketing opportunities to the firsts and reestablishing trust in the lasts.

Alessandro Tacconelli