Eight St Emilion wines investigated by US authorities

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  • Friday 15 August 2008

The US government has narrowed an ongoing fraud investigation down to eight wines from France’s St Emilion region.

Wines from Chateaux Pavie Macquin, Troplong Mondot, Belfont Belcier, Destieux, Fleur Cardinale, Grand Corbin, Grand Corbin Despagne and Monbousquet, are understood to be the focus of the investigation by the American Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

The wines were technically demoted in status by a government ruling last month that restored all St Emilion wines to the 1996 classification, following a legal dispute over the 2006 classification.

The eight chateaux were promoted to Premier Grand Cru Classe or Grand Cru Classe in 2006, but were demoted this year as the result of a legal challenge by several other chateaux, disgruntled being declassified two years ago.

‘We are taking some time to review the situation of the 2006 and 2007 labels on guidance from the French government to do with the use of the terms Premier Cru Classe and Grand Cru Classe,’ Gail Davis, of the TTB, told decanter.com.

The TTB is unsure whether it actually holds any of the eight wines in question. The bureau said it had been able to release a number of other French wines it was investigating as part of the classification dispute after receiving a list of the chateaux concerned from the French government last week.

‘This is not a health and safety issue, this is a potential fraud issue,’ said Davis.

The situation, which adds to the ongoing debacle surrounding the 2006 reclassification, has left the eight chateaux in a difficult position.

‘We have done nothing wrong, the situation is unjust,’ said François Despagne, vice president of the St Emilion Wine Union, and owner of one of the formerly promoted chateaux.

Despagne traveled to Paris yesterday as part of a delegation from St Emilion that met with the French president’s viticultural advisor. He said the delegation was in the capital ‘to explain both the injustice, and the damage that is being done to the region, to Bordeaux and to France’.

The St Emilion classification is revised every ten years.

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