Sixty to go on trial in wine fraud
The 60 winegrowers, traders and supermarket executives have been accused of adding tons of sugar to Beaujolais wine to improve the flavour of the wine.23 April 2008
LYON - Sixty French winegrowers, traders and supermarket executives are to go on trial accused of adding hundreds of tonnes of sugar to Beaujolais wines from 2004 to 2006, officials said Tuesday.
Authorities in the Beaujolais region of eastern France opened an inquiry in December in connection with the irregular sale of 600 tonnes of supermarket sugar, thought to have been sold on to dozens of local winegrowers.
Adding sugar to wine at the start of the fermentation process is legal under France's strict winemaking regulations but only up to a certain limit, and must be clearly recorded.
Investigators claim the scale of the sugar sales in the area prove local winegrowers were using the technique to artificially improve the flavour of their wines.
"The investigation is over. It is established that a traffic took place and many of the accused have admitted the facts," said the prosecutor of Villefranche-sur-Saone, Francis Battut.
The trial will take place in the autumn, after this year's grape harvest, he said.
Accused of making irregular purchases and forgery, the defendants face fines and possible prison sentences.
The 2004 Beaujolais harvest in particular was of variable quality - with some vineyards producing musty-flavoured grapes.
[AFP / Expatica]
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