Château Giscours has said it will appeal against a court ruling that saw the group fined 200,000 euros for illegally chaptalising some of its wine in the 2016 vintage.

  • Bordeaux tribunal hands out fine and suspended prison sentences

  • Giscours denies intentionally breaking rules and will appeal against conviction

  • Margaux third growth estate says final blend for 2016 wine is compliant with the rules

Château Giscours said last night (21 June) that it was ‘left with no choice’ but to appeal the ruling of the Bordeaux tribunal.

The court fined the Margaux third growth estate 200,000 euros for illegally chaptalising two vats of 2016 vintage wine.

It also handed out three-month suspended prison sentences to two of its directors for the ‘falsification’ over chaptalisation; a method of adding sucrose to grape juice prior to fermentation in order to boost potential alcohol levels. The wine affected, reportedly around 39,700 litres, must be destroyed, the tribunal said.

Giscours has previously not denied chaptalising a portion of its 2016 vintage wine in error, but has strongly denied any intent to commit fraud.

Instead, the estate blamed two separate errors on communication mix-ups.

It said that its cellar team started chaptalising a vat of wine containing 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot on 10 October 2016 after receiving what they believed to be approval from Margaux’s appellation body.

However, final rules laid out by France’s national appellation body for Margaux 2016 wines did not allow chaptalisation of Merlot.

Giscours said that none of the wine from this vat was used in its 2016 grand vin final blend, nor has it been bottled or distributed for sale.

Giscours has previously published a letter from the Margaux appellation authority, dated 1 February 2018, in which the body said that it sent an initial email with wrong information.

In a second instance, a Giscours technical team member mis-read an instruction to add sugar, written on the side of ‘vat seven’, which contained Cabernet Sauvignon. The instruction was read as 75kg instead of 25kg, Giscours said in an extended statement following yesterday’s tribunal decision.

This error meant that the vat broke chaptalisation limits set for that year. Estates were allowed to chaptalise at up to 1% abv, but vat seven was at 1.3%, Giscours said.

The property added that, in any case, it only used around half of its official sugar allocation for 2016 vintage wines. It added that its final blend for Giscours 2016 was fully compliant with all of the rules.