This particular news story caught my attention when it broke a little over a week ago, and I wanted to give it a little time to play out before making an opinion.
The case covered more than 480,000 hectolitres of wine, equivalent to 48 million litres or around 64 million bottles, said DGCCRF.
It said that, between October 2013 and June 2016, around 200,000 hectolitres of wine with no designation of origin (IGP) had been falsely labelled as Côtes-Du-Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages.
Of that, 10,000 hectolitres – 1.3 million bottles-worth – had been wrongly labelled as Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
To clarify, IGP wines typically have less restrictive rules concerning production practices that affect quality.
This is in contrast to AOC wines, which do have stronger rules to maintain higher standards. This may include lower yields, specific pruning methods and minimum ageing of wines before sale.
Where Is The Wine Now?
After a cursory search I cannot find where this fraudulently labeled wine may have been sold. As the company under investigation is a bulk wine shipper, it’s possible that this may have gone on to supermarkets either domestically or in neighboring markets like the UK.
However, as a significant amount was wrongly presented as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the Rhône Valley’s most prestigious (and therefore expensive) appellations, some of these may have ended up in restaurants or in private hands.
In many ways this reminds me of the Rudy Kurniawan fiasco – it’s said that some of his fake wines remain in private collections even today, their owners choosing blissful ignorance rather than facing the cold possibility that they bought a lie.
It may take time, and hopefully it is already happening under the surface, but these fakes need to be found and removed from the market.