Fifty-six cooperatives producing Beaujolais wine have successfully sued a magazine for describing the region's wine as mostly "crap" to the tune of €300,000.

The magazine Lyon Mag, from the city of Lyon, was found guilty of "denigrating a product", and was ordered to pay the cost of having the ruling publicised in the French media.

Lyon Mag called the ruling "unreasonable" and "incomprehensible" and said it would prevent anyone from criticising wine in the French press.

The cooperatives brought the case against the magazine after it printed an article with the headline: "Accusation by a top expert: Beaujolais is not wine".

In the article the well-known wine expert Francois Mauss was as saying that most of the Beaujolais put on sale was "un vin de merde" or "crap wine".  He also targeted the region's winemaking methods calling the wines they produced "basically lightly fermented, alcoholised fruit juice".

But the Beaujolais winemakers argued in court that both Mauss and Lyon Mag had "gone beyond the acceptable exercise of their respective social functions of criticism - even of a severe kind - and providing information".

Lyon Mag is planning to make an appeal despite the fact that the judge has said this will not be possible. In the meantime it has asked that the ruling be suspended.