Spot the difference - French fraud ring sold fake Pinot

Spot the difference - French fraud ring sold fake Pinot

E&J Gallo Winery is facing a lawsuit over the wine firm's link to the Pinot Noir wine fraud scandal in France.

Gallo faces a class action lawsuit in its home US state of California, filed by law firm Kingsley & Kingsley.

The suit comes after Gallo said that it may have been duped into buying wine falsely labelled as Pinot Noir from the French wine merchant, Sieur d'Arques.

A spokesperson for Gallo told just-drinks last night (1 March): "It is the policy of the E&J Gallo Winery not to comment on pending legal issues."

Ringleaders of the French fraud operation were last month given suspended prison sentences and fines by a court in the French city of Carcassonne. Is is estimated the fraudsters made a collective EUR7m by selling cheap wine at inflated prices.

Sieur d'Arques, which has supplied wine for Gallo's Red Bicyclette brand, was fined EUR180,000 (US$244,000), the largest sum handed down by the court.

"Based on the available information of the Pinot Noir that the French courts have investigated, Gallo imported less than 20% of the total and is no longer selling any of this wine to customers," said Gallo, following the ruling.  

US authorities have been tracking the scandal, which, alongside Gallo, may also have claimed Constellation Brands as a victim.