I was at Hearth night-- dinner given by Christie's before an auction featuring 'biodynamic wines.' It was a BYOB. One of the magnetic draws was the lure of 1995 Leroy Corton-Renardes . I have had far too little Leroy in my life. Even though I was on the verge of pneumonia and vetting death threats from California winemakers, there was no way I was going to miss it. But the real conversation stopper (or starter) of the evening was one of the silver foiled bottle, presented by one of the Christie's staff. Hmm. My first smell and taste and I said, "spoof.' Guess what? I wasn't alone. The wine seemed old but it seemed to have no real place. There was a little bit of syrah like horse, there was some reduction and there was some spice but utterly no grip and plenty of faded fruit. The color was cloudy as if there should have been sediment but there was no sediment. Bordeaux perhaps? Left bank? Right bank. Ah, balls, we said. No way. No one, and one of us happened to be an MW, Lisa Granik, penned it as a Bordeaux. Impossible. We clucked our tongues. Nope. No Petrus here. Faux Petrus. The Christie's guy having been flummoxed by the bottle back at the shop wanted to pass it by us. This was a lulu. The label did look faux. I don't know if you can tell but there is something not quite accurate with that face or the typeface. The real stunner was the cork. That looked real. So these crooks might be going around recylcing (how Green!) the corks from old real bottles of Petrus and reshnoozing them into the bottle? What seemed suspicious to me was how clean the cork's heel was. It seemed steamed clean. No deposits. No crud and no seepage. The Crystie's guy (sorry, cannot remember his name) said this was not unusual, but I'd never seen a cork from a bottle that was 30+ years old that smooth. This is a wild industry problem and we started to talk about the Ponsot debacle at the Acker Merril auction in April. Seems that amongst other major boo boos they had listed a 1929 Clos de la Roche--estimated to go for 14k-19k a bottle but the problem was that they didn't even start the domaine until 1934. There was a similar problem with the 1945, 1949, 1959, 1962, 1966 and 1971 Cos St. Denis. They didn't make a Clos until 1982. According to Peter Hellman's story in the Wine Spectator, Laurent Ponsot found similar problems with all of the wines in the auction. But there was indeed a legendary 1982 Petrus and that makes those fakes more difficult to spot. I would love to sit down with a wine counterfeiter and see how they do it. Can you imagine the alchemy? Do they have high tech apparatus? Do they do it with a button or do they have Michel Rolland or some other master blender? The Petrus wasn't the only unrecognizable merlot that evening. The other was sandwiched in-between two burgundies. Amazingly, it was not a counterfeit though it certainly smelled and tasted like a phony. It smelled like a vanilla scented lotion from The Body Shop. It's middle had been erased. There were no tannins except for wood. Paul Greico called it as a zinfandel. I said, whatever it was, it was my notion of wine hell, and it would have also been a costly hell--- $55. Pride Merlot 2005. Don't worry. It wasn't all painful. One of the most spectacular wines of the evening was the 1996 Coulee le Serrant and its undeniable sense of place and grape. A beauty. Lisa G. called it, dynamic. The 2003 La Fourchade, an Anjou Blanc from Marc Angeli's La Ferme de la Sansonnire, Les Fouchards. Anjou lush and apple-y with a touch of sweet residual and kept on changing and swerving. Both were a shame to have to dump out. The Leroy Corton-Renardes was a delight. In facti t might have cured my cold. Put my nose in it and sighed.......stems! Love those stems. Stems lay in another element or twelve of complexity that often gets cleaned up with the destemmer. In here there was musk and that intense chanel #5 rose oil. The finish was a little weak, but what the hell. I could have kept my nose in the glass forever --brought me back to playing Peter Pan in the empty lot in July as a little red headed tom boy, before the world turned.