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US clamps down on rogue Pinot Noir

US authorities have announced a clampdown on imports of Pinot Noir from the Languedoc in the wake of the Red Bicyclette scandal.

The new restrictions mean that, with immediate effect, importers will have to secure a declaration from the French government stating that the wine has been produced in accordance with appellation rules and French law.

Regulatory body the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), part of the US Treasury, has circulated the new rules to wineries, bottlers, importers and wholesalers across the US.

The certification requirement is similar to that enforced against imports of Brunello di Montalcino in June 2008, following allegations that producers had been using unauthorised grapes in their wines.

Those restrictions remained in place for nearly two years, only being lifted in March this year.

The new requirements apply to a wide range of Languedoc Vins de Pays/IGP appellations, including the huge Vin de Pays d’Oc/IGP Pays d’Oc classification.

The action follows French court action against 12 Languedoc producers and growers, who were handed suspended prison sentences and fines of €180,000 for supplying millions of bottles of fake Pinot Noir to E&J Gallo for its Red Bicyclette brand, and to other US companies including Constellation.

The TTB is also promising an investigation into the marketing of mislabelled Pinot Noir in the US marketplace.

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Written by By Richard Woodard

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