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Wine industry rocked by French rosé fraud

Wine industry rocked by French rosé fraud

France's consumer fraud authority has revealed around 10 million bottles of cheap Spanish rosé have been falsely sold as French wine.

The DGCCRF carried out an investigation from 2016-18 and detected four cases of fraudulent producers, involving around 70,000 hectolitres of wine.

Investigators were horrified to find evidence of Spanish wine being passed off as French in more than a fifth of the establishments they checked.

The results were revealed by Le Parisien newspaper on Monday and have shocked France, with rosé the nation's summer tipple of choice.

Spanish rosé was sold in bulk for just 34 euro cents ($0.40) a litre at the time the investigation began, compared with 75 to 90 cents for French rose.

"We were alerted to the 'Frenchification' of Spanish wine at the end of 2015," the agency's Alexandre Chevallier said.

"So we launched an inquiry at all levels, from producers to importers to restaurants and distributors," he said.

In the Paris region some 17,000 bottles of Spanish rosé being sold as French wine were taken off the supermarket shelves as a result.

Commercial fraud charges have been lodged and one producer now faces up to two years in prison and a fine of €300,000.

Among the tactics used were hiding the wine's origin on the label, printing a traditional French fleur de lys flower on the label and saying "bottled in France", using images of a French chateau to give the impression the grapes were grown on a vineyard in France, or supermarkets including Spanish rosé in the French section of the aisle to give customers the impression they were buying a "Made in France" wine.

The scandal follows police discovering in March that more than 66 million bottles of ordinary table wine had been passed off as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and other prestigious Côte du Rhône appelations.

The Telegraph also notes that in 2010, 12 winemakers and merchants in southern France were convicted of selling millions of fake pinot noir to E&J Gallo, a California-based wine producer and distributor. "At the trial, defence lawyers noted that no American consumers had complained," the newspaper reported.