E&J Gallo Winery has expressed surprise at a mass wine fraud investigation launched by officials in the US and France involving one of its suppliers.

Anti-fraud investigators in France and the US Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have launched an inquiry into allegations that winemakers in the French region of Languedoc Roussillon have falsely passed off wine as Pinot Noir in order to gain more profit.

News of the inquiry emerged in French press reports this week, and Languedoc wine group Sieur d'Arques has been named as one of those involved. Cooperative Sieur d'Arques supplies wine to E&J Gallo.

A spokesperson for Gallo said today (10 February): "We have just learned of the fraud investigation in France and we were surprised to discover that Sieur d'Arques is under investigation. These are serious allegations.

"We are actively working to learn more and we will be closely following the situation in the coming days and weeks. Our company is committed to producing and selling wine that meets the highest standards and we expect the same from all our suppliers."

A spokesperson for the US TTB told just-drinks: "We are in communication with the French authorities to determine the nature and the scope of this problem and we will take appropriate action as warranted after we've established all the facts."