The German artist manager and music publisher Hardy Rodenstock (1941-2018) is mentioned in some sources as a member of the well-known dynasty of glasses. However, as he himself admitted in the course of the case below, this is an artist name, he was born Meinhard Goerke. In the 1970s he was the producer of some groups of pop and pop music. He is said to have made his fortune in stock exchange transactions and acquired possessions in Munich, Bordeaux and Monte Carlo. He then became known worldwide for collecting and trading very old and exquisite wines. According to him, it all started when he got one Château d'Yquem of the year 1921 uncorked. That was "the start of my passion for great wines". His specialty is the large Bordeaux family, for which he is the honorary citizen of the city Bordeaux received. He was also the owner of the largest collection of old, exquisite Château d'Yquem vintages.
He regularly held rarity samples, for which only well-known personalities and renowned tasters such as Michael Broadbent (1927-2020), Jancis Robinson (* 1950), Robert M. Parker (* 1947) and the owner of the Château d'Yquem, Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces (* 1946) are invited. The most famous Rodenstock tasting so far took place from August 30 to September 5, 1998 at the Hotel Königshof in Munich. This included the incredible amount of 125 bottles of Château d'Yquem, the oldest from 1784 (2 from the 18th, 40 from the 19th and the rest from the 20th century). During the week, one vertical tasting performed as part of five lunches and seven dinners, as well as 175 other wines. This tasting is also the subject of a book (August F. Winkler, Yquem - The Century Tasting).
In the 1990s, Rodenstock presented at several tastings Imperial bottles (6 l) of Château Petrus among others the years 1921 and 1922. Serena raised first doubts about the authenticity Sutcliffe (* 1945) voiced, the head of the wine department of the auction house Sotheby's. These concerns were raised by Château Petrus owner Christian Moueix (* 1946) confirmed. According to his statements, there is no evidence of oversize bottles in the winery's documents, which were usually only used by famous wineries for special customers. At the time, the company was an unknown winery. The most speculative allegation of falsification, which has occupied the scene for many years, was different.
In the spring of 1985, Rodenstock said he received a call to discover 12 very old vintages of fine wine. These had been found walled up in a basement wall in Paris. This started a long history of counterfeiting charges, lawsuits and comparisons. To date, the facts have not been 100% clear. These were wines from the renowned French wineries Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château d'Yquem born in 1784 and 1787 from the estate of US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). They bore his initials incised into the bottle glass. Jefferson was US ambassador to Paris at the time and collected French wines. Rodenstock never mentioned the place of discovery or the finder, who he says has since died. A Château Lafite-Rothschild 1787 from this find was sold in 1985 for € 160,000 auction of Christie's to Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) sold. In any case, it is one of the most expensive wines in the world.
The American billionaire William Koch (* 1940) bought four bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Mouton-Rothschild from the years 1784 and 1787 for $ 500,000 in 1988 from the US wine auction house Chicago Wine Company. Koch owns works of art by many important artists (including Cézanne, Dali, Monet, Picasso, Renoir and Rodin) and valuable antiques worth several hundred million dollars. There is also an exquisite collection of 40,000 wines, some of them very old. The four bottles bore the Jefferson initials in the form "Th.J" and, according to the seller, they came from Rodenstock. Koch let them in from employees of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Monticello (Historic Jefferson Winery) near Charlottesville, Virginia. These expressed initial doubts about the authenticity of the bottles, as there was nothing to be found in Jefferson's meticulous cellar book records about these wines.
Another indication of a forgery is that Thomas Jefferson always used the initial form "Th: J" (ie with a colon) in many documents and not "Th.J" as on the bottles. In 1991, a laboratory commissioned by the wine collector Hans-Peter Frericks (a former friend of Rodenstock), as part of radiocarbon dating (C14), showed that the wine in one of these Jefferson bottles dates from after the first nuclear tests, i.e. after the 16th July 1945. The legal dispute initiated by Frericks against Rodenstock ended in the first instance with his conviction, but ended in a settlement, the details of which were agreed upon confidentiality. Another analysis, in turn, showed that the wine definitely originated before the atomic age (i.e. the atomic bomb dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945), since otherwise cesium-137 would have to be contained. After extensive analyzes in an FBI laboratory, it also turned out that the amazingly uniform engraving was most likely made with a precision technical device (perhaps a dentist's drill).
Koch's extensive collection includes other wine bottles that are said to have been sold by Rodenstock. Therefore, Koch sued him in New York in August 2006. Rodenstock, however, swears that the Jefferson bottles are real and claims his innocence. In addition, he was never in a direct business relationship with Koch. Individual bottles (based on winery and / or vintage) could very well be real, individual bottles may actually be fake. Perhaps one can determine this with certainty in the future without any doubt (if there should still be bottles). However, it will never be clear whether they really came from Jefferson's property. Because of course the initials (no matter if period or colon) are not proof, they could be the abbreviation for any name.
After a New York federal court provisionally dismissed William Koch's lawsuit against Hardy Rodenstock, the U.S. collector appealed the dismissal. His lawyers brought in new arguments and pointed out that at least some of the so-called Jefferson bottles in New York had been handed over to Koch. Since Rodenstock is the source of all four controversial wines suspected of being forgeries, the court must now declare its jurisdiction. Rodenstock denied all allegations of counterfeiting. He claimed that Koch had never bought a bottle from him and had to be conclusively proven that these four bottles actually came from the Parisian find (see an interview on the Feinschmeckerey website). In May 2010, Rodenstock was convicted of being absent from a scheduled trial. The matter could never be clarified. There were several TV documentaries on the subject and the film rights were also sold.