Documentary Recommendation: Sour Grapes (2016)

This documentary directed by Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell is all the more intriguing in the fact that Rudy Kurniawan was released from prison on November 6, 2020. He is supposed to be sent back to Indonesia, but Sour Grapes focuses on his life in Arcadia, California as a counterfeiter of fine and rare wines before this was discovered. He had sold thousands of bottles of fake wines for hundred thousands of dollars that totaled millions spent on his wines at top auction houses. His story includes those he duped including Bill Koch and worth the one hour and 25 minute viewing. Kurniawan’s greediness also caught the eyes of Laurent Ponsot (wine maker from France), Jay McInerney (wine columnist), Maureen Downey (wine consultant, James P. Wynne (FBI agent) and those wrapped up in his fraud of Rajat Parr (sommelier), John Kapon (wine auctioneer), and Jefery Levy (Hollywood director).

After Kurniawan was arrested in 2012, there was clear evidence he was deep in counterfeiting wine and spent a lot of time perfecting his methods, but they weren’t perfect enough. He might have known how to mix wine so it tasted similar to the original wines, but he wasn’t a historian. In other words, he was pretty green when it came to dates of certain wines. He was sentenced to ten years in federal prison in 2013 but obviously released early. The fake wine was sold to repay his victims and the authentic wines were sold as well. The ending ties into what occurred in Indonesia where his uncle, Eddy Tansil, was embezzled 420 million from an Indonesian bank. He escaped prison and if Kurniawan is anything like him, he will find some way to survive.

I rate Sour Grapes Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%.

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