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Gina Gallo: Pinotgate was ‘a disaster’

The 'Pinotgate' scandal, allegedly involving 18 million bottles of fake Pinot Noir from the Languedoc, was 'a disaster' for Californian company Gallo, it has admitted.

In a wide-ranging interview in the November issue of Decanter magazine Gina Gallo says the company was embarrassed by the incident, which drew wide condemnation from the international media.

Whilst defending the company’s standards for wine production, Gallo accepts the criticism for failing to notice that the fake wine contained Merlot and Syrah.

‘As a company we want to be squeaky clean, and we are scrupulous in declaring alcohol levels and other matters, so of course it was an embarrassment to us,’ she said.

‘I haven’t tasted the offending wine that often, and we’re committed to the Languedoc, especially Limoux, as a source of Pinot. But I admit it was something of a disaster.’

Gallo, who married Jean-Charles Boisset, head of the American arm of Burgundy producer Boisset, last year, says she is committed to making wine in France, though she discounts future plans to make wine in Burgundy.

‘I love Pinot Noir, but it would be quite presumptuous to want to make wine in Burgundy – it’s too close to home.

‘Perhaps Champagne? That’s Pinot territory too, and I love the wines.’

Gallo, head winemaker and grand-daughter of Julio Gallo, defends the move to withdraw Gallo’s mid-range wines from the UK market in favour of its cheapest brands such as Redwood Creek, Turning Leaf, and Barefoot Cellars.

‘I sympathise with the view that not having our best Sonoma wines and our Louis Martini wines in the UK is a missed opportunity.’

‘But with the economic downturn, most consumers are looking for cheaper brands rather than more expensive, high-quality wines. But of course I know that we should be offering more.’

She says the company will continue to focus on the UK, but is ‘less confident’ about new markets such as China and India.

Read the full interview in the November issue of Decanter magazine, out now.

Written by John Abbott

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