A Loire Valley winemaker who disobeyed France's appellation system has escaped with only a token fine, in what his lawyer described as a 'slap in the face' for officials.
Olivier Cousin (centre) in court in Angers
The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Angers this week ordered Olivier Cousin to pay one euro in damages to both France’s national appellation body, INAO, and the Anjou wine federation.
Prosecutors had asked for a €5,000 fine on six counts of mislabelling vin de table made from Cabernet Franc. Cousin opted out of the Anjou appellation in 2005, but continued to use the Anjou name on labels.
Although he must pay €690 in court fees on top of the fine, he was pleased with this week’s ruling. ‘I don’t trick people. I don’t misrepresent my wine and this judgment is proof of this,’ he said.
‘We gained everything we asked for and this is a slap in the face for the Federation,’ added Cousin’s Parisian lawyer, Eric Morain.
At a March hearing, Morain had asked for Cousin to be acquitted. He admitted that there were errors in Cousin’s labels between 2010 and 2011, but said the labels were then amended to conform to the regulations.
Morain also claimed that ‘Anjou’ had been expropriated by the Federation and the INAO.
The Federation Viticole d’Anjou Saumur said that Cousin’s fine, however small, still represents a ‘victory for the protection of the appellation’ and will serve as a warning to others.
Written by Jim Budd