THOUSANDS of bottles purporting to be Penfolds’ top-shelf wine have been seized in an anti-counterfeit operation in China.
Chinese police seized 14,000 bottles of counterfeit wine following a complaint by Penfolds’ parent company Treasury Wine Estates about three months ago.
The fake premium products were sold through Chinese giant Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer website Taobao with sales beginning at $40 a bottle.
Top-shelf Penfolds vintages generally sell for more than $100.
Thirteen people were arrested in the counterfeiting operation — including a wine dealer who was selling bottles for as little as $40 each.
Bottles with fake Rawson’s Retreat and Bin 128 labels were displayed by Chinese police during a presentation to the media, Fairfax reported.
It was suggested some of wine seized includes counterfeit top-of-the-line Grange.
Police discovered about 2000 bottles of wine in a Shanghai warehouse while 10,000 more were found in two warehouses in the port city of Xiamen.
Penfolds Magill Estate in South Australia
Another 2000 bottles were seized when police arrested five online retailers.
Treasury Wine Estates applauded Chinese police, as well as Alibaba — who tipped authorities off — for helping smash the fraudulent operation.
“This is a significant step forward in helping combat illegal operators,” Treasury Wine Estates said.
“Importantly, legitimate sales of Treasury Wine Estates’ quality wines remain to be extremely strong.”
Australian winemakers have been battling counterfitters in its most valuable market for a number of years, including Barossa Valley’s Henschke Wines seeking legal advice over a fake “Hill of Glory’’ brand that was being promoted in China in 2012.