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Wednesday 1 February 2023

Does your glass of Bordeaux wine taste a little Spanish?

The wine industry hates it when its bad news is shouted from the rooftops.

So I don't expect much love for this story, as sentences have been handed down in in a massive Bordeaux wine fraud case.

The case hit the courts after millions of litres of wine, much of it Spanish in origin, was passed off as Bordeaux of higher quality.

The fraud centred on the small vintage in 2013, it was heard in evidence.

Jean-Sébastien Laflèche, a broker based in Saint-Loubès, north-east of Bordeaux city, and Michel Gilin, a former wine merchant at the Celliers Vinicoles du Blayais, were handed 24 and 20-month prison sentences respectively, although both were commuted to house arrest.

Laflèche and Gilin were also given fines of €453,000 including property seizure, and the pair was banned from being involved in any wine merchant-based business for five years.

Three other defendants given suspended sentences and €20,000 in fines.

The five defendants were fined €670,000 between them for "irregular circulation of goods" with Laflèche and Gilin also facing €12,500 in private party damages.

"These fines are totally out of proportion," Sophie Benayoun, representing Laflèche, was quoted by French regional news outlet FranceBleu.

"And also unfair because it's always the lamplighters, the little guys in the dock. The big players are protected - or perhaps not, I don't know - but in any case, they are not under the scrutiny of the courts."

The defendants were reported as being likely to appeal their sentences.

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