Côtes-du-Rhône/Bordeaux fraud uncovered

Wine fraud on a massive scale has rocked French vineyards in the Rhône Valley and in Bordeaux.

It’s believed that as much as 15% of all Côtes-du-Rhône wines have been labelled falsely at one time or another.

The scandal seems to have been perpetrated by Raphaël Michel and French officials at the Directorate General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs & Fraud Control have stated that it involved some 5.3 million nine-litre cases-equivalent of table wine being passed off as Côtes-du-Rhône, Côtes-du-Rhône Villages and even Chateauneuf-du-Pape (around 111,000 cases) between October 2013 and June 2016 according to a report in theDrinksBusiness.

The report states that the company behind the fraud was not named by the French authorities “but there is little doubt that it is Raphaël Michel, a major bulk bottler in the Vaucluse and one of the biggest in France.

“In August last year the company’s chairman Guillaume Ryckwaert and several managers were arrested on charges of fraud, deception and tax violations.”

Several large contractors including French supermarket chain Carrefour cancelled their supply contracts with the company and producers’ associations in the region are understood to be preparing to sue for having their reputations brought into disrepute.

And following these revelations, it now seems that one of Bordeaux’s leading négociants has been caught up in a similar fraud as French prosecutors at Bordeaux’s criminal tribunal have accused Grands Vins de Gironde of “flagrant” wine fraud by blending AOC wines with table wines and blending across AOCs, vintages and estates between the 1st of January 2014 and the 31st of December 2015.

The fraud is believed to involve over 66,000 nine-litre case-equivalents worth over €1.2 million.

In one example Languedoc wines were being blended with Bordeaux, table wines were ‘upgraded’ to IGP and at least one lot of Bordeaux 2011 was sold as a 2012.

Signes de Terre also stands accused of illegally blending and mislabelling some 46,700 nine-litre cases-equivalent of wine between 2012 and 2014, according to the report in theDrinksBusiness,

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