A French wine supplier has massively sold cheap table wine as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, an expensive, renowned wine. Possibly 40 million bottles were traded. There is a judicial investigation.
The company Raphaël Michel buys wine in bulk from many different winemakers. Then it sells that wine in large quantities under brand names.
The French trade magazine V & S, which brought the scandal to light, reports that Raphaël Michel sold the wine as Châteauneuf-du-Pape. That is a special wine whose name is protected and can not be used just like that. The same applies for example to the name Champagne.
The wine supplier also undeservedly sells bulk wine such as Côtes du Rhône, also a protected designation of origin.
Cheap table wine
According to V & S, over the past three years, up to 300,000 hectoliters of cheap table wine would have been sold under protected designations of origin. That is 10 percent of the total production in the Rhone valley, where the wine company Raphaël Michel is active.
An investigation into Raphaël Michel has been going on since the autumn of 2016, but the news only came out this summer.
1 million euros
The topman of Raphaël Michel is Guillaume Ryckwaert. He was arrested for fraud and fraud. In the meantime, Ryckwaert is already walking around after payment of a deposit of 1 million euros.
It appears that the fraud wine was not sold in the Netherlands. Joris Snelten, CEO of Delta Wines: ‘This wine supplier is not known to us, at least I have never met Raphaël Michel on the Dutch market and Dutch importers have not, as far as I know, been approached by this party. probably Raphaël Michel only operated on the local market.’
The wine supplier Raphaël Michel had contracts with, among others, the French supermarket chain Carrefour. Carrefour has now removed the rejected bottles from the shelf.
The world’s best-known wine swindler
Fraud of this magnitude is rare. According to Snelten, French inspection authorities are: ‘There is strict control, they go unannounced to producers, who have to be able to show exactly how much wine they produce, samples are taken and sent to the laboratory. The Royal Dutch Association Wine merchants have their own quality mark that has to be an extra guarantee against fraud.’
Yet it is not the first time that there is fraud with wine. The most famous wine swindler is Rudy Kurniawan. In the beginning of 2000, he made award-winning quality wines from renowned wineries and sold them for exorbitantly high prices. For example, American billionaire Bill Koch calculated $ 2.1 million for 200 bottles of Kurniawan. Eventually he fell through the basket. In 2016 a documentary about this wine scammer appeared: Sour Grapes.
Source: Dutch television station RTL.