Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bordeaux fake wine crime proves Bordeaux AOC still has value. But why?

Most stories about fake Bordeaux are about counterfeit versions of really expensive bottles, 1947 Château Pompeux or a rare double magnum of 1961 Château Prétentieux, or whatever.

A story that broke this week in the French publication Vitisphere is completely different (here is an English-language report on that story). French customs authorities are investigating the possibility that an unnamed négociant bought 420,000 liters of wine from Languedoc -- enough for 560,000 bottles -- and sold that wine to global distributors as Bordeaux.

For some of that workmanlike Languedoc bulk wine, there was clearly going to be value added. The negociant claimed that 93,000 bottles worth were Pomerol, 80,000 bottles were Margaux and 47,000 bottles were Pauillac. Though illegal and immoral, etc., that's alchemy I can understand. The idea was to turn $12 bottles of wine into $50 bottles of wine. That crime would pay.

What surprised me was that the négociant tried to pass off more than 1/3 of his bulk Languedoc wine -- 190,000 bottles -- as entry-level Bordeaux AOC wine, and another 93,000 bottles as Bordeaux Superieur AOC (in this case "Superieur" is a region and not a quality designation, though I didn't know that when I first started drinking wine and I'll bet not many people know it now.)

I don't know about you, but I would rather buy a Languedoc wine than a Bordeaux AOC wine.



I know that Languedoc is the source of oceans of unsold wine: so much that local farmers commit vandalism against companies transporting Spanish wine that they see as competition. Still, by the time a Languedoc wine makes it to my local restaurant or wine shop, it has passed through a couple of trade filters in the form of an importer and either a merchant or sommelier, and it's probably going to be good value. I have been very happy in particular with Languedoc wines I have ordered in restaurants.

In contrast, I haven't had good results at all with Bordeaux AOC wine, and to a lesser extent Bordeaux Superieur AOC.

The Bordeaux wines I like best are either white wines (Bordeaux whites are so underrated) or reds from regions higher up the pecking order of appellations. Bordeaux AOC red is just not a very good category. I have judged this category in Europe several times and I can tell you we should be grateful for trade filters, as there's a lot of really sour, underripe, poorly made and sometimes bacteriologically compromised dreck produced under the Bordeaux AOC designation.

But clearly this is my experience, not the market's opinion. Clearly a lot of customers think generic Bordeaux AOC wine is valuable enough that a négociant is willing to commit a crime to supply them. To these customers I say, try some Languedoc red. It's better. And if somebody tells you a wine is from Languedoc, you know it's the real thing.

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4 comments:

Bob Rossi said...

" by the time a Languedoc wine makes it to my local restaurant or wine shop, it has passed through a couple of trade filters in the form of an importer and either a merchant or sommelier, and it's probably going to be good value. I have been very happy in particular with Languedoc wines I have ordered in restaurants."
I agree, and I like Languedoc wines very much. But I suspect that the Languedoc wine that was the subject of this theft was not of that caliber.

Miquel said...

I'm in complete agreement with you as I too have judged some truly squalid wines in this AOC. And Languedoc has some real gems like much sourced from Minervois or Fitou these days. But I'd assume that this is AOC Bordeaux that's probably headed for markets like China where the name means something, way more than the actual quality.

Miquel
Https://wineonsix.con

Lewis Perdue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis Perdue said...

Languedoc counterfeiting done on a large scale by GalloGallo’s Red Bicyclette “Pinot Noir” Still On Store Shelves – Legal or Not?

[sorry, deleted post above had a wrong URL]