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Thursday 2 December 2021

How much water would you like in your Bordeaux wine?

There have been numerous incidents of dodgy wines sold at auction in the past and now Vincent Lataste, the owner of Bordeaux wine company Sequoia, has been sentenced to a year in jail for multiple mislabelling offences.

A court in Bordeaux found his company “attempted deception on the substantial qualities of wines,” among other offences.

Lataste’s sentence constitutes the first of its kind for a prominent figure in the Bordeaux wine industry. His family has been making wine in Bordeaux since 1850, 

Sequoia, which has since been renamed (rather ironically) as Awesome, was fined €100,000, €50,000 of which was suspended, while he himself was fined €30,000 with €20,000 suspended.

He has, however, appealed to France’s highest court, local media reported.

The case, as reported in Le Monde newspaper, started when inspectors from the wine regulator, Institut national de l’origine et de la Qualité, carried out a “routine check” on wines sold by Sequoia, which is based in Cadillac, near Bordeaux.

The inspection showed levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) which were above the authorised limits, being 90 micrograms per litre over the 150 milligram per litre cap.

Sulphur dioxide is used in the winemaking process as an antioxidant and an antimicrobial additive that stops harmful bacteria, and kills yeasts that might spoil the wine.

After this finding, further tests were carried out and authorities found evidence of further fraud, including wines from different producers being mixed, water being added to wine and wine labels displaying the incorrect years (good years, of course, rather than poor vintages).

Back in 2016, another Bordeaux château owner, François-Marie Marret, was fined after he was found guilty of selling cheap wine as more expensive Bordeaux to a number of major supermarkets. 

Lataste was also found guilty of assisting in that crime and given an 18-month suspended sentence and a fine.

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