As a wine writer for more than 30 years who knows some of the players mentioned in the book, I enjoyed the way Benjamin Wallace cleverly wove together history, the world of wine and France in particular and the hoax so many bought into. Not only does he chronicle an incredible array of details into understandable context with dexterity, he weaves in a steady thread of humor (Harry Waugh, the English wine merchant and writer, was once asked how often he confused Bordeaux with Burgundy. "Not since lunch," he replied."). The confusion and complicity of some of the world's best-known wine critics and auctioneers comes to light as the hoax unfolds. Some reputations are ruined because of seeming complicity.
One parallel that might have been pursued further: the brilliance of Bill Koch, the billionaire who exposed the fraud, and Thomas Jefferson, whose name was attached to the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold. Both were meticulous in their work and record-keeping. The fact that no records existed at Monticello of the so-called Jefferson bottles should have put the Rodenstock collection into question immediately. Then, with carbon dating and other modern technology, the Koch team exposed the fraud. A tale well told.