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French wine merchant diluted Bordeaux vintages

BORDEAUX, France, March 29 (AFP) – A court in southwestern France on Monday gave a wine merchant a 10-month suspended prison sentence and ordered him to pay a heavy fine for illegally mixing inferior wine with classic Bordeaux vintages.

Dominique Blanc, 49, was found guilty of selling about 10 million bottles of mislabelled wine – low-quality wine from the Midi region mixed with different Bordeaux labels and sold as top-shelf AOC wine – from 2000 to 2002.

According to customs officials, Blanc made about EUR 9 million (USD 10.9 million) on the fraudulent bottles. He was ordered by the Bordeaux court to pay a fine of EUR 180,000.

Blanc ran two companies specializing in selling AOC wines, which meet strict requirements concerning the vineyard of origin and the type of vine grown: one company catering to wholesalers and a second aimed at retail customers.

Prosecutors had asked that Blanc serve six months in prison, while customs officials asked for millions of euros in fines.

In his own defense, Blanc testified that his mixing procedures were “rather widely used” in the Bordeaux wine-producing region of southwest France.

“Those who are in the same trade as I am, dealing in top-price AOC wines, buy 10 truckloads of Bordeaux and one truckload from another region,” he insisted after his conviction.


                                               Subject: French news