The long-running Chanson fraud case was concluded today with the two ex-directors of the Burgundy négociant being found guilty of deceit and falsification.
The two men, brothers François and Philippe Marion, who owned Chanson until late 1999 have each been given a one-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay a €40,000 fine.
The Marions were arrested in 2001 after Etienne Bizot, head of Société Jacques Bollinger which bought Chanson, alerted the authorities to the suspected fraud.
In a bizarre twist, in October this year Bizot himself was accused of being party to the fraud. He has been acquitted.
The pair were found guilty by Dijon magistrates court of having adulterated Burgundy AOC wines with vin de table from the Hérault, in the Languedoc. The court found that this practise had gone on for around two years, from 1998 onwards.
Around 25,000 cases of vintage Burgundy from 1996 to 1999 are thought to have been tainted.
The brothers, as well as the cellar master at the time, Marc Cugney, have been ordered to pay an additional €1 (one euro) fine to the BIVB, the Burgundian wine trade body as well as €41,000 to the INAO, the French appellations body, and €1,000 to the French consumer guide Que choisir.
The brothers and Cugny pleaded guilty earlier this year but the trial was delayed for fear of a negative influence on the annual Hospices de Beaune barrel auction.
Written by Oliver Styles