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Senior Member
Nov 6, 2006
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French guilty in US wine scandal
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.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2010/02/17 19:24:51 GMT

I've had 2 bottles of this brand, I liked the first, but hated the second, didn't taste anything like the other. I chalked it up to year, but maybe not.
A famous sentence comes directly to my mind: there is one born every minute.
This suits them well.

I do not think 90% of the consumers who bought this wine
care anyhow. Why should they. As long as it contains no poison and it
is to their liking it is obvious worth the price.

This shows once more that winetalk and *pricing is based on nothing but snobbism.

I agree Luc, and if I remember correctly, this wine costs less than $10 per bottle. If they had just labeled it correctly it likely would not have been an issue.

The first bottle I had was decent, it was definitely not the best Pinot Noir I've had by a long shot though. The second though, was way over-oaked and seemed thinner. Why did I buy it? It was cheap!