Bordeaux Château Owner Nabbed in Counterfeit Wine Raid

The fake Bordeaux scam is suspected to have involved hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine

Bordeaux Château Owner Nabbed in Counterfeit Wine Raid
In France, the dedicated gendarmes who investigate these wine crimes are members of an elite squad known as the Vin-vestigators. These are their stories. (Joegend/Getty)
Jul 6, 2022

Bordeaux awoke to a shock last week when a yet-to-be-identified winery owner was arrested, along with 20 co-conspirators, in a raid by French gendarmes.

Authorities first caught whiff of the alleged crime ring this past September, when they stumbled upon wine-counterfeiting equipment, including fake labels, during an unrelated drug investigation. A month later, fake Bordeaux wine surfaced in the Sarthe region. Gendarmes were able to link these clues to a complaint made months earlier by the owner of a château in the Médoc, who discovered his wine was being counterfeited.

By November, the gendarmes' special wine squad (aka the vin-vestigators?!) were on the case. According to the prosecutor’s office, they found evidence of "a large-scale fraud organized by the owner of a vineyard in the Médoc also having the status of a négociant."

The reported scam involved sourcing inexpensive wine from other regions of France as well as from Spain and bottling it as prestigious Bordeaux château wines at suspiciously low prices. The wines were bottled at night and delivered on weekends so as not to attract the attention of neighbors.

According to law enforcement, the culprits "developed a network of official and unofficial distributors, made up of companies, retirees [and] self-employed entrepreneurs" across France. The wines were sold to supermarkets and abroad via intermediaries engaged in "illegal manipulations."

The investigation is ongoing, but the prosecutor's office estimates the fraud to involve several hundred thousand bottles of wine. The ill-gotten gains were allegedly used to fund a lavish lifestyle, with money laundered through renovation projects paid for in cash. The investigation and apprehension of the alleged perps involved more than 100 gendarmes across seven regions of France.

The château owner and three accomplices were charged and released on bails ranging from €20,000 to €50,000. They have been indicted on charges of organized crime fraud and money laundering, deception regarding merchandise and falsification of foodstuffs.


Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.

Unfiltered crime fraud extra-extra France Bordeaux

You Might Also Like

Joe Jonas Adds Some Sparkle to Sangria Season

Joe Jonas Adds Some Sparkle to Sangria Season

The latest star to step onto the ready-to-drink cocktail stage is partnering with Ohza to …

Aug 4, 2022
Champagne Pommery Storms the Hamptons Fine Art Fair

Champagne Pommery Storms the Hamptons Fine Art Fair

The event's opening-night Bastille Day vernissage benefited the local Guild Hall cultural …

Jul 27, 2022
Sixers Star James Harden Puts the Beard on the Bottle

Sixers Star James Harden Puts the Beard on the Bottle

The NBA superstar and fashion icon teams with Jam Shed Wines to create J-Harden x J-Shed …

Jul 25, 2022
California Vintner Scott Pruett Races into Motorsports Press Hall of Fame

California Vintner Scott Pruett Races into Motorsports Press Hall of Fame

The Sierra Foothills’ speediest Syrah star will be inducted into the National Motorsports …

Jul 21, 2022
All-Star Roster of Celebrities Launches Thomas Ashbourne Cocktail Collection

All-Star Roster of Celebrities Launches Thomas Ashbourne Cocktail Collection

Partners Sarah Jessica Parker, Vanessa Hudgens, John Cena and more swing big on ready-to-dr…

Jul 14, 2022
Stars and Stripes Forever: Did 340-Year-Old Shipwrecked Wine Belong to George Washington’s Family?

Stars and Stripes Forever: Did 340-Year-Old Shipwrecked Wine Belong to George Washington’s Family?

The HMS Gloucester sank off the coast of England in 1682, bringing hundreds of bottles of …

Jul 1, 2022