Suspects convicted by court in major Bordeaux wine fraud case
Five people have been convicted by the Tribunal Judiciaire de Bordeaux for their part in a huge scale wine fraud that saw nearly 35,000 hectolitres of Spanish wine passed off as French and even of Bordeaux appellations.
The estimated 35,000 hectolitres of Spanish wine were apparently brought into France in tankers in one of the largest wine frauds to affect the country in recent years.
That’s the equivalent of roughly 4.6 million bottles of wine, at least some of which were falsely labelled under Bordeaux appellation names.
According to French-language wine industry publication Vitisphere, the total fines levied out were in excess of €1m. In addition, two of those convicted received jail terms – one a two-year sentence suspended by 50% and the second a 20-month term suspended by 50%. Both sentences would be served at home with the convicts wearing electronic tags, according to local news reports.
Some of the bottles allegedly involved in the scam contained wines bought for a few euros a litre but were sold as Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Saint-Julien and Margaux wines from Bordeaux. The remainder was sold as French table wine, which still demands a higher price than their Spanish counterparts.
Frédéric Georges, a lawyer acting for the Confédération Paysanne de la Gironde (CPG), said during proceedings that the fraud had risked “undermining the profession as well as the image of Bordeaux wine.
“It is one of the biggest frauds involving Bordeaux wine in history, both in terms of quantity and the money involved.”
It is believed that a poor harvest in 2013 triggered the fraud, amid concerns from Michel Gilin, sales manager of Celliers Vinicoles du Blayais, that he would not be able to fulfil orders.