British fine-wine merchant sued over 1787 Yquem


Later that same day: Stephen Williams responds here.

Lawyers acting for Atlanta real-estate developer Julian LeCraw Jr filed a 59-page complaint last Thursday in Atlanta against the Antique Wine Company of London, AWC Holdings, AWC Global, and the owner Stephen Williams. AWC Global has business interests in Asia as well as in the UK.

The wines involved in the lawsuit include a 1787 Ch d'Yquem claimed by the British fine-wine merchant at the time to have been the world's most expensive bottle of white wine (as alluded to on this page on their website about an 1811 Yquem at the time of writing), a raft of 19th-century Lafites, and an impériale of Ch Margaux 1908.

In 2006 Mr Williams himself delivered the 1787 Yquem to Mr LeCraw and stayed at his home. Subsequently, when Mr LeCraw tried to sell some of the wine sold to him by AWC, there has been considerable discussion and dispute as to the authenticity of some of the wines sold to Mr LeCraw by AWC. This culminated in the Atlanta businessman's calling in Maureen Downey, wine authentication expert (and Purple Pager interviewed here by, to examine the controversial bottles in his cellar. Last month, before the complaint was filed, some of these bottles were taken to Lafite and Yquem for inspection by their specialist staff. A phrase repeated in the complaint is 'faux, faux faux'.

Mr LeCraw further claims that AWC owes him several million dollars for hundreds of bottles taken on consignment after 2010.

Mr Williams response is published here.

See the 59-page complaint filed in Atlanta with full details of the wines in question, dealings between Mr LeCraw and AWC, and alleged indications of inauthenticity.

Exhibit A includes AWC's international press clippings about the 1787 Yquem and is too extensive to include here.

Exhibit B includes a fax from Hardy Rodenstock about the 1787 Yquem, making the point that he did not supply it but suggesting that it is likely to be authentic.

Exhibit C shows a back label affixed to a bottle of 1847 Ch d'Yquem by AWC referring to comments from Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces and Lionel Cruse made in 2007 about the authenticity of this 1847 Yquem.