You remember that cheeky glass of delicious dry French rosé wine you enjoyed over summer? It might well have come from Spain.
French authorities have uncovered millions of bottles of rosé imported in bulk from Spain being passed off as French, with at least one producer facing prison and fines of up to €300,000, The Drinks Business reports.
The rosé was falsely labelled as ‘Vin de France’ (French table wine).
A two-year investigation by the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Controls (DGCCRF) revealed that wines being imported into France, mainly from Spain, were not being properly labelled.
Announcing its findings, the DGCCRF said it had detected numerous instances of fraud in relation to around 34,000 hectolitres of wine – the equivalent of around five million bottles.
Nearly 17,000 bottles have already been removed from the shelves of one retailer, while commercial fraud charges have been lodged with the maximum penalty for charges of “deceptive commercial practice” two years in prison and fines of €300,000, which can be increased to 10% of the annual average turnover in proportion to the benefits gained from the breach.
“A total of 179 establishments were audited in 2016 and 564 in 2017, specifically on the subject of foreign wines,” it stated. “Twenty-two per cent of the establishments visited in 2016 and 15% of the establishments visited in 2017 were subject to non-conformities ranging from confusing to ‘Francification’, the latter being an offence that is the subject of criminal penalties.”
While the investigation initially targeted wine importers, it was later extended to include distribution companies, as well as the on- and off-trade.
The vast majority of wines checked were labelled correctly, for example as “Vin de Espagne” or “Vin de la Communauté Européenne” (VCE) when they are blended with wines from other countries of the European Union.
Those facing charges have not yet been identified.