The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Wine and the Widening Information Web

Posted on | January 5, 2010 | Written by Christy Canterbury | 4 Comments

christy_bevan_chipA few issues back, Wine Spectator dedicated an issue to wine fraud.  There is no doubt there’s a problem with wine provenance, and I’m often surprised by how few producers seem to be doing anything about it.  I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked, however. From what I’ve gathered in reading about the issue, producers find that most forms of combating fraud are a bit pricey (except for Ann Colgin kissing her labels with bright red lipstick for wines purchased at charity auctions).

But then I met Russell Bevan and Victoria De Crescenzo of Bevan Cellars.  For only $1.05 per bottle, these proactive producers have embedded a chip in the back label of every bottle they make.  You send a text to the iProof number (477663) with the iProof code (Bob’s Cuvee Syrah: S3P5K775) found on the back of the bottle you’re about to purchase or drink, and within seconds you receive a full set tasting notes.  photo

The owners of Bevan Cellars are hoping to add pairing ideas soon, and when Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can handle the data load, the chips will be able to point you to the nearest restaurants and retailers where you can buy the wines.

Wow! This is technology that I can wholeheartedly get behind. Moreover, I think this technology could help fight wine fraud for less than the cost of a top quality cork.  I’m telling all of my vintner friends about it. Help me spread the word!


4 Responses to “Wine and the Widening Information Web”

  1. Sarita
    January 5th, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

    WOW! I’m with you, I can absolutely get behind technology like this, talk about immediate gratification!

  2. Kerry-Jo
    January 6th, 2010 @ 11:07 am

    Wine fraud? I can’t believe it! I am going to look up info on this subject. I didn’t even know it was possible. I suppose anything is these days. Ridiculous!

  3. Christy Canterbury
    January 6th, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    Ridiculous…but, sadly, lucrative for those who do it! Check out the issue of Wine Spectator I mention for a good overview of many aspects of the topic. Peter Hellman’s article is particularly useful in summing up the biggest scandals of late, but if you really want to dig into the matter, read Benjamin Wallace’s book “The Billionaire’s Vinegar.”

  4. Christy Canterbury
    January 8th, 2010 @ 2:28 am

    As promised, I’ve been sending this post to many a winemaker friend. One responded with justified skepticism (paraphrased): few retailers and restaurants, much less consumers, will have access to any chip-reading technology. So, it would seem pretty easy to create a false code on a label to divert the inquirer to information set up by a counterfeiter. Even worse, what if counterfeiters hack into the iproof database?

    Points well taken, especially the first.

    Nonetheless, he restored my enthusiasm at the end of the note by saying he may very well move forward with it. The wine world must start somewhere!

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