This piece originally appeared on Decanter.com.
Italian police have seized 9,000 bottles of counterfeit Moët & Chandon Champagne, worth up to $392,000, in a workshop near Padova in Italy.
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The seizure, announced this week, happened at the end of last year when financial police were investigating a separate business and found a bottle of Moët & Chandon without a serial number on the label.
Alongside the sparkling wine, police discovered a machine to wrap the bottles with Moët & Chandon packaging, and a further 40,000 fabricated Moët & Chandon labels.
The Guardia di Finanza estimated the fake Champagne, which was just sparkling table wine, is worth around $392,000. But the counterfeiters could have earned around $2 million, including the unused labels, had they not been discovered.
"The system was very detailed and specialised," said Lieutenant Colonel Luca Lettere, "They chose Champagne because it can be sold for such a high profit. Buying Prosecco for one or two euros, they can put it on the market for 35 or 40 euros. We absolutely cannot rule out that other goods may be involved."
Eight people currently face charges but they are yet to be taken into custody.
A spokesperson at Moët & Chandon told : "Moët & Chandon is extremely vigilant and makes every effort to protect its products and consumers from any kind of counterfeit. We work very closely with the authorities of all our markets including local police forces to ensure only authentic Moët & Chandon products are sold. We recognise the excellent work of the authorities who seize the counterfeit products and we do not hesitate to engage in prosecution."
Luckily, the sparkling wine is not going to waste as it has been donated to associations working in Veneto, the home of Prosecco, to use in their wines.