RaphaëlMichelGate

300,000 hectolitres purportedly marketed fraudulently as Côtes du Rhône

Wednesday July 26 2017 by Vitisphere

From October 2013 to March 2017, negociant firm Raphaël Michel bought 460,000 hectolitres of Côtes du Rhône but sold 745,000 hl, equating to unlawful production of 290,000 hl, to which a further 18,100 hl of Côtes du Rhône Villages should be added”, explained Philippe Pellaton (photo), chairman of the Côtes du Rhône producers’ organisation. Last week, the organisation filed a civil suit in the inquiry surrounding the blending firm and was initially shocked on reading the evidence. Shock has now given way to anger due to the magnitude of the appellation marketing fraud. “The charges brought against the firm are extremely serious”, admitted Pellaton, an accusation the shipper’s lawyer firmly denies (see box).

The situation is under control

Detailing the damage done to the economy and image of Rhone wines, Philippe Pellaton does not want the producers’ organisation to be a passive plaintiff in the ongoing procedure. “300,000 hl of unlawful wines is a huge amount! This is a massive fraud but we need to put its disruptive effect into perspective over the long term”, stressed the Gard wine grower. Amounting to around 80,000 hl a year, the fraud apparently occurred gradually, representing the equivalent of 3 to 4% of the regional appellation’s annual production – which is why it went undiscovered by the industry, believes Pellaton. “Administrative checks worked and put a stop to the fraud mechanism”, he claimed, pointing out that the situation is now under control.

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