In the Bordeaux region, it is a practice that has been pinned down by the courts: a winemaker uses his prestigious name to sell a wine at a low price. Imagine: a very famous vintage, “Château Vingt-Heures”. With the same logo, we sell “Le Bordeaux du Vingt-Heures”, which is in fact a simple blended wine. A marketing strategy deemed misleading by some winegrowers.
You may have seen them, in the cellar or in the supermarket: bottles labeled “Le Bordeaux de Citran”, “Maucaillou”, or “Larrivet-Haut Brion”, names of famous castles in Bordeaux.
But for Dominique Techer, winemaker and spokesperson for the Confédération Paysanne en Gironde, these bottles are only prestigious in the name: “these are blends of wines that come from anywhere in the Bordeaux appellation», He explains. “We add the name of a terroir to the wine to make people believe that it has something more chosen: it is a strategy to promote entry-level wines. To me, this is a hoax.”In court, he denounced an attack on public confidence, and unfair competition.
In a few months, justice condemned the owners of these three wines, for deceptive commercial practices. According to the magistrates, there would be a risk of confusion between their prestigious wines and their blended wines. We find the same logos, the same castle designs on the bottles… even if the raisins for the blend wine do not come from the castle.
The estates concerned have appealed, so the condemnation is not final. All deny having deceived anyone. Contacted, Denis Merlaut, at the head of Château Citran, defends himself: “on me says: ‘you sold 600,000 bottles between 2014 and 2016’. How many complaints were there? Zero. Zero consumer complaints!“
No complaints … But even an online reseller was wrong, taking “Le Bordeaux de Maucaillou” for a wine from Château Maucaillou, in Moulis-en-Médoc (Gironde, Moulis appellation) … whereas the wine comes from Baurech (Gironde, Bordeaux appellation), at nearly 50 kilometers. The lawyer for the Maucaillou estate nevertheless assures us that the label would be clear enough not to deceive the consumer.
“To attract is not to deceive. The consumer cannot be deceived, because even if he recognizes on a logo the design of a farm, he is perfectly capable, by reading the label, of knowing if he has business. to a Bordeaux appellation or if it is dealing with a Moulis appellation. “Me Alexandre Novion, lawyer of Pascal Dourthe, owner of Château Maucaillou
to France 2
In Bordeaux, other procedures are underway. Regarding labels, the repression of fraud does not intend to add water to its wine… a wine to be consumed, of course, in moderation.
Judgments rendered by the Bordeaux Criminal Court
Minutes of the DIRECCTE Nouvelle-Aquitaine
“Justice has not, at all, finished with the domanial brands of Bordeaux wines“, Alexandre Abellan, Vitisphère, January 4, 2022.
Charter of use of trademarks representing an operating name, Federation of great Bordeaux wines