Trading standards officers have seized a quantity of fake Bollinger vintage champagne that was being offered in magnums for as much as £80 a bottle.
Instead of high quality vintage champagne, the bottles contained a variety of cheap sparkling wines, including Spanish cava and Italian prosecco - that are more likely to retail for around £6 a bottle.
A total of 22 fake bottles of Bollinger were seized when trading standards officers swooped on three small independent off-licences in the borough, after receiving a tip off from the company behind the world famous brand.
Now the investigators are warning customers to carefully check the bottles before purchasing Bollinger. In particular they are advising buyers to double check the label, which is said to be a poor copy of the real thing.
To date the fake bottles have only been found in these three small shops, and no major retailers, supermarkets or other stockists are thought to be affected.
The council's spokesman on consumer protection Cllr Sarah McDermott said:
"Anyone spending their hard earned money on a bottle of Bollinger would have been left feeling pretty flat if they'd ended up with a cheap bottle of sparking wine instead, so I'm delighted that we have been able to work with the company to crack this little con.
"If anyone thinks they may have fallen victim to the counterfeiters they should to contact trading standards as soon as possible so that we can check whether the bottles are fakes or not. I would also urge small retailers to be very cautious about buying stock from anyone other than a recognised reputable wholesaler."
Andrew Hawes, managing director Bollinger's agents in the UK, Mentzendorff & Co added: "To date the quantity of stock involved is very small and no existing trade customers of ours have been approached.
"We would like to assure our regular customers that there is absolutely no danger that they could mistake this stock for the real thing – the labels being poor-quality photocopies that have been applied to stripped-down bottles of cheap sparkling wine sourced from across the Channel."
The counterfeit bubbly was being offered in 75cl and 1.5 litre (magnum) bottles at prices ranging from £30 to £80, only slightly below the normal retail price of the genuine article.
The owners of the three retailers involved are currently assisting trading standards officers with their investigation.
September 8, 2010