July 07: Bordeaux makes a wide range of wines that follow the local appellation laws but some unscrupulous producers are indulging in making spurious wine by importing cheap Spanish liquid and labelling them as Bordeaux, as was discovered last week by the French police, though the winemaker and négociant has been arrested, reports Subhash Arora who cautions against importers buying bottom of the barrel Bordeaux wines to increase profits and also warns the consumers against possible fraud
Months in the Hindu calendar are different than the Western calendar. The month of July 14 to August 12 is the month of Sawan, the month of monsoon in most places in India. It is mentioned in folk tales and legends that Sawan is the most beloved month of Lord Shiva. It also reminds one of a very poignant Bollywood song of yesteryears:
Chingari koi bhadke, to Sawan usse bujhaye
Sawan jo agan lagaye, usse kaun bujhaye?
Roughly translated, it means If a spark flares up, rain will extinguish it, but if rain sets the fire, who will extinguish it? One naturally trust a Bordeaux wine producer for making his or her wine to the correct specification but what does one do if the winemaker is using fraudulent means to sell cheaper wine in the supermarkets or importing cheap, bulk wine from Spain and peddling it as Bordeaux wine by changing labels?
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This is apparently what has been happening in Bordeaux for some time. French police claims to have broken up a gang that had allegedly produced hundreds of thousands of bottles of fake Bordeaux wine in an elaborate counterfeiting operation, prosecutors said last week, according to a news report.
The fraud was caught when an investigative team came across printing machinery being used to create the labels for the bottles last year, initiating a wider criminal probe.
It led to the arrest of around 20 people last Monday during an operation in seven different areas of France, with three of them charged with organised fraud, counterfeiting and money laundering. Three of those arrested have been charged with organised fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
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The main whose name has not been made public yet, is a winemaker and négociant in Medoc, near Bordeaux. He has reportedly been buying cheaper wine from other areas including Spain, bottling it up at night and selling as more expensive local wine. Major orders had been placed for the wine destined for supermarkets and foreign countries.
We hope that the culprits will be heavily punished because these practices undermine the image of Bordeaux and those who work properly and respect the rules, says a local wine industry body. French wine makers, customs and police are constantly on the lookout for cheats who pass off budget plonk as top vintages.
This is not the first time such a fraud has been unearthed. In 2016, police busted a Bordeaux producer who was blending poor-quality wine with high-end Saint-Emilion, Lalande-de-Pomerol and Listrac-Medoc wines to sell to major supermarkets under prestigious labels. Then there is the infamous case of12 French winemakers and dealers in 2010, who were convicted of selling millions of bottles of fake Pinot Noir to the US firm E&J Gallo.
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The legendary Beaujolais winemaker Georges Duboeuf was fined more than €30,000 for blending grapes from different vineyards to disguise the poor quality of prized vintages.
The wines were supplied to supermarket buyers in bulk under the pretence of being mid-range plonk from Medoc in Bordeaux that was being offered at discounted prices. At the end of the chain, customers thought they were buying château-bottled Bordeaux wines whose names and labels inspired confidence at knock-down prices. In fact, they were the bottom-of-the barrel wines produced a long distance from Bordeaux.
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Importers and consumers in India need to guard against possible import of such products and hopefully, the importers check out the antecedents of such fraudsters.
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