A Satisfying Documentation of Wine Fraud
I think the success of “Sour Grapes” has a great deal to do with our innate desire to see the rich and famous taken down a notch. And that’s exactly what happened to many a rich and many a famous person who were exposed to the Rudy Kurniawan, the greatest of all wine fraudsters.
Opening on September 16 and produced by film documentarians Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas, Sour Grapes documents the rise and fall of Rudi Kurniawan, a wine counterfeiter who’s buying exploits fascinated the wine auction world and who’s take down shocked an industry.
The first half of the film looks at the rise of Rudy, his sudden prominence in the wine auction world as well as at the strange, high-flying world of those Burgundy wine collectors who will seemingly pay any amount for their treasured bottles. The second half of the film examines the detective work by FBI agents, Bill Koch and French vignerons to uncover multi-million dollar counterfeit scheme that fueled Kurniawan’s rise and fall.
The film was very well done, very well paced and enjoyable to watch. There were some cringe-worthy moments, particularly when Bill Koch seems so hurt that he was scammed out of a few million dollars due to his purchase of counterfeit wine. And with all the talk of how Kurniawan was able to create fake Burgundies in his basement, I would have liked to have seen a fake bottle actually created. That aside, a very enjoyable film.
The one person in the film who comes out looking like the adult in the room is Maureen Downey. Downey is an expert on rare wines, valuing wine and wine frauds. Her expertise shines through.
Anyone in the wine industry, anyone who buys wine at a high level, anyone who likes the True Crime genre and anyone who gets a kick out of seeing the high and mighty taken down a bit will get a kick out of Sour Grapes.
Tom, I’m interested in your opinion on this film versus Somm. I’m in agreement that industry people will enjoy this, but will it fly at the box office? Does it have to fly at the box office to be considered a success?