(Jack Phillips) Chinese authorities said they seized around 10,000 bottles of fake Chateau Lafite Rothschild wine—considered the most expensive type of red wine in the world—at an abandoned house in the coastal city of Wenzhou last week.
The discovery underscores the rampant problem of counterfeit goods in China.
The owner of the home, whose surname is Zou, said he discovered that it was filled with bottles of the wine, but denied involvement, reported the Shanghai Daily.
If genuine, the wine would be worth approximately 100 million yuan, or US$16 million, according to the publication. Around 50,000 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild are imported to China every year.
Chinese officials have said that around 70 percent of the Rothschild wine in the country is fake. The wine is seen as a status symbol among Chinese elites.
The house was guarded by five dogs, including two Tibetan mastiffs—considered some of the largest dogs in the world, weighing in excess of 140 pounds. Authorities found the man that feeds the dogs and inquired about his employer, but he did not disclose a phone number, saying he had cared for the animals for three years.
Police are now searching for the workshop where the wine may have been produced.
Chateau Lafite Rothschild has won six lawsuits against Chinese firms that were counterfeiting wine, according to the Daily.
The French wine estate has been owned since the 1800s by the wealthy Rothschild family, which amassed its wealth through banking. The record price for a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite believed to be owned by founding father Thomas Jefferson sold for $156,000 in 1985.
China has had a problem with counterfeit goods in recent years. In one of the most high-profile examples, it was discovered earlier this year that more than a million counterfeit electronic parts found their way into the U.S. defense supply chain, according to a report by the U.S. Senate.