A new Australian-developed technology has the potential to defend the wine export industry against the booming $4.3 trillion global trade in counterfeit wines, the company says.
The eBottli suite of new tracking and blockchain data technologies includes geolocating services for bottles or containers, and unique identifier labels for winemakers, which help guarantee a wine’s authenticity.
Founded by French-born, Adelaide-based Nathalie Taquet, eBottli is now working with 12 clients across Australia, including vineyards in the McLaren Vale region and Barossa Valley, South Australia.
Taquet said premium artisan wine labels are particularly vulnerable to export fraud. “It’s quite unbelievable the extent that wine counterfeiters will go to. Some will simply replace valuable wine with cheap substitutes in the bottle, with fake labels.
“They also add juice, and spices for added flavour. Other dodgy bottles contain no grapes at all, and even have harmful substances added – such as lead acetate, which is a sweetener.”
Taquet developed the system with the backing of the South Australian government. Australian wine exports to China alone are worth around $1.25 billion but the counterfeit market is even bigger, she said.
According to Taquet, research has estimated potential losses to the global industry due to counterfeits will reach $4.3 trillion by 2022. In China alone, it is believed around 50 per cent of wine over $35 is fake, and up to 70 per cent of bottles sold are fraudulent.
When Taquet moved to Australia from France two years ago, she set up a B2C online wine club called Bottli, specialising in premium and luxury French and Australian wines. Her family owns a winery in the Burgundy region of France.
“Our family heritage and passion for wine guided us towards unique artisan winemakers. Bottli also offers wine concierge and sommelier services and we are able to track and source extremely rare and valuable bottles of wine from around the world on request,” she said.
Taquet said eBottli would also be a major point of difference for Bottli compared to other wine clubs, allowing drinkers to connect to a winery and see how the bottle ended up on their table.
“There are a number of anti-counterfeit technologies available to the Australian wine industry, but eBottli is the most comprehensive: it uses multiple tracking and geolocating technologies, is ready to use, has its own secure app, and is reliable and low-cost compared to others.
“The eBottli technology also allows wine drinkers to connect with the vineyard. Our ultimate plan is to have wine bottles arrive to the customer overseas, and then they can use their smartphones to scan the label and read its Australian story of origin.”
The South Australian government incentive Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) prompted Taquet to relocate to Adelaide from Sydney.
While both businesses have been disrupted by COVID-19, Taquet said she has a strong vision for the future for both Bottli and eBottli.