BBC reported Monday that, after a two-year investigation by France's anti-fraud directorate, around 4.6 million bottles of Spanish Rosé have been incorrectly labeled as French, which is relatively more expensive. The wine, which has already been sold to cafes and restaurants all over France, bore labels that falsely claimed the wine was made and bottled in France. In some cases, the true origin of the wine was mentioned but hidden by packaging, as was the case with a large percentage of boxed wine.
It is estimated that at least 700 liters of Spanish wine have been passed off as French, a fact which has outraged wine manufacturers in France, who have long competed with cheap imported wine from Spain.
Remi Dumas, the head of the young wine producers organization, tweeted, "For those who wonder why we demonstrate, for all the wine-producers who aren't bothered by our calls for protest! Consumers open your eyes! 10m bottles of fake rosé from Spain."
The French newspaper, Le Parisien, commented on the situation, telling lovers of French Rosé to "beware," adding, "You're in danger of a nasty surprise at happy hour." An unnamed official from the newspaper even called the wine "Frenchified."
Manufacturers and wine producers responsible for this mix up, intentional or not, could face at least two years in prison for fraud.
Alexandre Chevallier, the deputy chief of staff for the General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control, announced Monday, "We've identified fraud at four trader-producers."
The Telegraph reported Monday, "A wine distributor based near the Spanish border is accused of concealing the origin of three million litres of Spanish rosé, equivalent to four million bottles, sold as French wine over three years."
Criminal trials are about to begin, but the names of the specific manufacturers and distributors suspected are still unknown.
The Telegraph also noted, "The profits generated from the fraud are still being evaluated, but are believed to be enormous. A litre of Spanish rosé cost about 30p in 2016. Passed off as a French IGP (protected geographical indication) wine, it would fetch up to three times that amount wholesale, while a 75 ml bottle would sell from about £4 to £10 retail."
There have been a series of scandals involving the validity of French wine over the years, with the last one occurring only months ago in March, in which 66 millions bottles of table wine were disguised as Châteauneuf-du-Pape.