Saturday, 20 February 2010

In Vino Veritas

Just in case you missed it, here is a transcript of the BBC report on the Pinot Noir scandal. I love most French products, but I have always been pissed off about how the French think they can off-load any crap they have a surplus of onto the rest of the unsuspecting world. Beaujolais Nouveau is a good example...

A dozen French winemakers and traders have been found guilty of a massive scam to sell 18 million bottles of fake Pinot Noir to a leading US buyer.

The judge in Carcassonne, south-west France, said the producers and traders had severely damaged the reputation of the Languedoc region.

The 12 more than doubled profits passing off the wine to E and J Gallo under its Red Bicyclette brand.

E and J Gallo was not involved in the court case.

In a statement on its website it said it was "deeply disappointed" to learn its supplier, Sieur d'Arques, had been found guilty of selling falsely labelled French Pinot Noir.

'No complaints'

The court ruled the 12 had deliberately and repeatedly mislabelled the wine as one of the more expensive varieties of grape in order to get a better price from E and J Gallo.

The Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir single grape wine is hugely popular in the United States.

French Customs officers spotted the swindle and called in investigators.

They found the amount of Pinot Noir being sold to Gallo was far more than the region produced.

Some of those in the scandal were not even Pinot Noir producers.

The judge handed out suspended jail sentences ranging from one month to six months for the most prominent wine trader and ordered all the defendants to pay fines.

The fines ranged from 1,500 euros ($2,050; £1,300) to the top figure of 180,000 euros ($247,050; £156,500) for Sieur d'Arques. The judge said that the accused together made seven million euros in profits from the scam.

The judge said: "The scale of the fraud caused severe damage for the wines of the Languedoc for which the United States is an important outlet."

A lawyer for Sieur d'Arques, Jean-Marie Bourland, told Agence France-Presse: "There is no prejudice. Not a single American consumer complained."

A lawyer for three other defendants argued his clients had delivered a wine that had Pinot Noir characteristics.

E and J Gallo said it was no longer selling any of the wine to its customers.


  1. Just to think, we used to have a race from here in Bath to France and back again, to see who would be the first mug to import a bottle of 1 day old, Beaujolais Nouveau into Britain! You've got to hand it to the French Agricultural Lobby, they know how to protect their own members.

  2. You've reminded me of the tale about Monet.

    In his life Monet painted about 500 paintings, of which over 2000 are in the USA alone.

    The other recent wine scandal was about wine aged in new oak barrels. Some Bordeaux wag discovered that he could create exactly the same taste by throwing newly cut oak chips into the wine, rather than having the wine in new oak barrels.

    Personally I thought this was good lateral thinking. The courts saw otherwise!!

  3. Yes - re Monet, the French national Audit realised that about 2 times as much Pinot Noir had been exported than had been produced, so ding-a-ling went the alarm bells.

    If all the fakes in art museums were admitted to be such, then all their assets would be halved over night.

  4. It comes down to arrogance and whatever happened to pride in ones craft. It's for this reason I'm sure to support businesses that pride themselves on the product they present to the public instead of those out for greed and profit.

    You take care.