Fake it and make it

Raphaël Michel winery (Photo: )

The latest wine fraud scandal to hit France involves not rare collectable wines from Bordeaux or Burgundy, but supermarket wines sold as Rhône Valley appellations such as Côtes-du-Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Around 3 million cases of the stuff is alleged to be actually plain Vin de France.

This is interesting in the light of a rather heated current debate on winewankers.com about the scale of wine fraud worldwide.

Wine fraud experts Maureen Downey and Scott Evers claimed that around 20% of all the wine sold in the world today is fake. This figure was disputed by several others, on the assumption that they possibly meant 20% of all ‘luxury’ wine. But no, they meant 20% of ALL wine. And not just in the hotspots of China but globally.

What some observers seem to have failed to appreciate is that wine fraud is not just about cleverly faked bottles of 1945 Romanée-Conti by the Rudi Kurniawans of this world, but less high-profile wines, worth fewer dollars per bottle but when we are talking millions of litres, the profits start to mount. Nothing is immune, including Jacob’s Creek, Yellow Tail and cheaper Penfolds wines.

The company in the gun in this latest case is Raphaël Michel, one of France’s oldest and largest bulk wine bottlers, selling around 10 million cases a year, and supplying supermarkets such as France’s Carrefour, which has reportedly cancelled its contracts with the firm since the scandal broke.

Wine Spectator has also reported on the story.


Via NZ Herald – Wine fraud breaks out in New Zealand; three charged


2 thoughts on “Fake it and make it”

  1. Huon Hooke
    Huon Hooke says:

    Hi Peter, There are certainly plenty of cheap Cotes du Rhones around but I have no reason to suspect them. There are lots of checks and balances in the French system. The Guigal is good and probably commands a bit of a premium because of the famous name. The fact that we know about the frauds is because people keep getting caught, and that in itself is reassuring – someone is checking on these people.

  2. Peter J Herring says:

    Hi Huon,

    Really interesting, thanks for the article. I bought a Guigal Cote du Rhone for about $23 a few weeks ago at DM … I have liked this wine since the late 80s and it has always been favourably-priced. However, I notice that there are a few other wines labelled CduR that are substantially cheaper. Much cheaper. Could these be frauds, also?

    Thanks again,
    Pete Herring

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