The Hugel family has launched a public protest after finding its wines listed in one of France's biggest supermarkets, E. Leclerc, against its wishes.

Domaine Hugel in Alsace

Etienne Hugel
published a complaint on his company’s website after he discovered E. Leclerc was selling the Hugel Riesling 2012 vintage, a year after the the same supermarket also listed the 2011 vintage.

Some Leclerc stores, including one in the Alsace capital of Strasbourg, were selling a single bottle of the wine for €13.5 on Monday (6 October).

Etienne Hugel, who is responsible for sales, said he had specifically told distributors to steer clear of supermarkets.

‘What I object to is the lack of ethics,’ Hugel said. ‘It is our right as producers to specify where our wines are sold, and I do not support the system where supermarkets use one or two high profile wines to promote footfall and justify the rest of their wine range.’

Hugel believes he knows who supplied the wine to Leclerc and that the wholesaler had previously agreed in writing to sell the wine on to independent wine shops.

‘The boxes displayed in the supermarket had the supplier’s name ripped off,’ Hugel told Decanter.com. ‘But, each of our bottles is individually numbered, so it was easy for us to trace them back to who we had sold them to.’

Domaine Hugel exports 92% of its wines. Of the stocks remaining in France, around half is sold directly from the estate and the other half through small wine shops and restaurants. Hugel also supplies Monoprix, a department store, with a blended wine branded as Gentil.

E. Leclerc could not be immediately reached for a comment. The merchant named in Hugel’s blog strongly denied selling the wine to Leclerc and said he has contacted his lawyers regarding possible defamation action against Hugel.

Written by Jane Anson