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Top Bordeaux négociants in court

A group of top Bordeaux négociants is in court accused of dealing in over $1m of falsely-labelled wine.

The négociants – including the major houses of Dulong frères et fils, Cordier, and Ginestet – are claiming they received the wines in good faith from merchant Jacques Hemmer, whom they are suing.

The Bordeaux court heard how Hemmer, a small-time négociant in Le Pian-Médoc (Bordeaux), sold wine with Bordeaux labels to the six négociants in 1994. The wine actually originated from Languedoc-Roussillon.

He has admitted to adding small quantities of different categories of wine to the bottles, but said he had done it to give the blend deeper colour and more body, and that the quality was not affected.

‘The negociants never complained about the quality of the wine I supplied,’ he said.

The affair affects six of the most important négociants in Bordeaux. They have sued Hemmer in a separate action.

Eric Dulong, managing director of négociant Dulong frères et fils, and current president of the CIVB, told decanter.com, ‘With all the means at our disposal today, it is scandalous that certain individuals should have the effrontery to attempt to defraud Bordeaux wines.’

The total volume of wine sold under false pretences amounts to some 8,000-10,000 hectolitres over a period of three years. The estimated value of the fraud is put at €1.9 million (US$1.66m). Hemmer is now insolvent, according to his lawyer.

Written by Alan Spencer in Bordeaux

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