Fraud in the global wine market is on the rise and since author Benjamin Wallace wrote about the purchase of a fraudulent bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux in his book The Billionaire’s Vinegar, the panic among wine merchants and connoisseurs has heightened even further.
So when the authenticity of a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem that sells for more than $16,800 was in question, Stephen Williams, president and chief executive officer of Antique Wine Co. in London, sent it to the Centre d’etudes Nucleaires de Bordeaux Gradignan (The Center for Nuclear Studies in Bordeaux Gradignan) to be examined by a particle accelerator. At the center, the glass bottle is analyzed using ion-beam analysis that determines the age and history of the bottle.
The center also tests wine by measuring the amount of radioactivity that it emits. But the center can only test wine where the grapes were grown after the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was dropped in 1945. The radioactivity in the soil declined after 1945, but increased again in 1961 and 1986 from nuclear testing, and the failed Chernobyl nuclear reactor.