The German artist manager and music publisher Hardy Rodenstock (1941-2018) is sometimes referred to as a member of the well-known amateur dynasty. However, as he himself admitted in the course of the below-mentioned Causa, this is a stage name, he was born as Meinhard Goerke. In the 1970s he was producer of several groups of pop and pop music. He should have made his fortune with stock exchange transactions and acquired possessions in Munich, Bordeaux and Monte Carlo. Then he became known worldwide through the collection and trading of very old and fine wines. By his own admission, it all started when he got one Château d'Yquem of the vintage 1921 uncorked. That was "the starting signal of my passion for great wines". His specialty is the great Bordeaux family, for which he is the honorary citizenship of the city Bordeaux received. He was also the owner of the largest collection of old, exquisite Château d'Yquem vintages.
He regularly ran rarity rehearsals, which included only well-known personalities and renowned degustators such as Michael Broadbent (* 1927), Jancis Robinson (Born 1950), Robert M. Parker (* 1947) and the owner of the Château d'Yquem, Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces (* 1946) are loaded. Probably the most famous Rodenstock tasting to date took place from 30th August to 5th September 1998 at the Hotel Königshof in Munich. 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 became 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 Impériale bottles (6 l) of the Château Petrus among others, the vintages of 1921 and 1922. First doubts about the authenticity were made by Serena Sutcliffe (* 1945), the director of the wine department of the auction house Sotheby's, These concerns were raised by the Château Petrus owner Christian Moueix (* 1946) encouraged. According to his statements, the documentation of the winery no proof of the bottle oversize can be found, which were usually used only by famous wineries for special customers. The company was at that time but an unknown winery. The most spectacular counterfeit reproach, which occupied the scene for many years, was however different.
In the spring of 1985 Rodenstock received, according to his own information, a call about the discovery of 12 very old vintages of fine wines. These had been found walled in a basement wall in Paris. This started a long history of counterfeiting, lawsuits and settlements. The facts could not be clarified to this day without doubt. These were wines from the renowned French wineries Château Lafite-Rothschild. Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château d'Yquem the vintages 1784 and 1787 from the estate of US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). They bore their initials carved in the bottle glass. Jefferson was then US envoy in Paris and collected French wines. However, Rodenstock never mentioned the place of discovery or the finder, who according to his statement has since died. A Château Lafite-Rothschild 1787 from this find was in 1985 for € 160,000 at a auction from Christie's to Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) sold. It is one of the most expensive wines in the world,
The American billionaire William Koch (b. 1940) bought four bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Mouton-Rothschild of the vintages 1784 and 1787 for $ 500,000 in 1988 at 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 hundreds of millions of dollars. Among them is also a fine collection of 40,000 partly very old wines. The four bottles carried the Jefferson initials in the form "Th.J" and according to the seller, they came from Rodenstock. Koch let them in from Thomas Jefferson Foundation staff Monticello (historic Jefferson Winery) near Charlottesville (Virginia). These expressed their first doubts about the authenticity of the bottles, as Jefferson's meticulous cellar-book records of these wines contained nothing.
Another indication of a fake is that Thomas Jefferson had used the initial form "Th: J" (ie with a colon) and not "Th.J" as on the bottles throughout his life. In 1991, a laboratory commissioned by the wine collector Hans-Peter Frericks (a former friend of Rodenstock) in a radiocarbon dating (C14) proved that the wine in one of these Jefferson bottles from the period after the first nuclear tests, ie after the 16th July 1945, had to come. The then initiated by Frericks litigation against Rodenstock ended in the first instance with its conviction, but ended in a settlement, the details of confidentiality was agreed. Another analysis in turn showed that the wine comes in any case before the atomic age (ie the Atrombombenabwurf on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945), otherwise cesium-137 would have to be included. After elaborate analysis in an FBI lab, it also turned out that the amazingly even engraving was most likely made with a precision engineering instrument (perhaps a dentist's drill).
In Koch's extensive collection there are more wine bottles that were supposedly sold by Rodenstock. Therefore, this was sued by Koch in August 2006 in New York. Rodenstock conjures that the Jefferson bottles are genuine and asserts his innocence. Besides, he had never been in direct business relationship with Koch. Individual bottles could be real (in terms of winery and / or vintage), but some may actually be a fake. Maybe you can determine this in the future with appropriate means beyond doubt (if there should still be bottles). Whether they really come from the ownership of Jefferson, will certainly never be clarified. Because, of course, the initials (whether point or colon) are no proof, they could be the acronym for any name.
After a New York federal court had temporarily dismissed the lawsuit filed by William Koch against Hardy Rodenstock, the US collector lodged an objection to the dismissal. His lawyers brought in new arguments, pointing out that at least part of the so-called Jefferson bottles had been handed over to Koch in New York. Since Rodenstock is the source of all four controversial and counterfeited wines, the court must declare its jurisdiction. Rodenstock denied lifetime allegations of all falsification. He claimed that Koch had never bought a bottle from him and had to prove conclusively that these four bottles actually came from the Paris Fund (see an interview on the Feinschmeckerey website). In May 2010, a default judgment was issued against Rodenstock because of his absence at a scheduled trial. The facts could never be clarified. There were several TV documentaries on the subject and also the film rights were sold.