Saturday, 16 July 2011

Petrus barcode switch 'tip of iceberg'

  • Monday 6 June 2011

The woman who tried to buy bottles of Petrus worth €2,300 for €2.50 each by switching barcodes represents the tip of the iceberg, fraud experts say.


Leclerc: 'real problem'

The 23-year-old, who has not been named, was caught last month in a Leclerc supermarket in Trélisssac, Dordogne, having changed barcodes, replacing the indicated price of about €2,300 per bottle with €2.50 labels, according to Agence France Presse.

But for every person caught, many more get away with such label switching, French supermarket executives told

‘This is a real problem,’ David Bruguiere, wine buyer for Leclerc said.

Although a bottle of Petrus should be easily recognisable, most cashiers cannot tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine. If dishonest clients unpeel the price label from a bottle and put it on a more expensive one, they can get away with it, he said.

Such label switching is particularly easy during the foires aux vins, annual wine fairs at French supermarkets.
During the foires bottles are sometimes left unlabelled, and unused barcodes are left unsupervised, a representative for the supermarket chain Auchan said.

‘We are working on preventive measures,’ said Bruguiere, ‘but we are not sure what we can do yet.’

Bordeaux Wine Trading fraudster convicted

  • Wednesday 13 July 2011

The managing director of a company selling non-existent Bordeaux en primeur has been found guilty of fraud.

lafite box

Pic: £1.2m of orders were not fulfilled

The verdict was returned on Paul Craven, of Bordeaux Wine Trading Ltd, at St Albans Crown Court. The jury returned a unanimous verdict after a trial lasting just over three weeks.

Craven set up Bordeaux Wine Trading in July 2006. BWTC sold £1.2m of 2005 First Growths en primeur but never placed any orders with negociants in Bordeaux.

Instead investors’ money was spent on cars, Cartier watches, lavish holidays and cocaine. Only £12,200 has been recovered – £200 in a bank account and £12,000 in cash under Craven’s bed.

Craven will be sentenced on Thursday along with Oseghale Hayble, who was also a defendant in this trial until he was taken ill.

In December 2010 Hayble was found guilty of fraud for his part in running International Wine Commodities Ltd.

Prior to BWTC Craven had worked briefly at another en primeur company, the Bordeaux Wine Company, owned by Frederick Achom and Anthony Grant, both of whom have been convicted of fraud and are barred from being company directors until July 2013.

Hertfordshire Police carried out the investigation.

Major Chinese retailer ditches Left Bank Bordeaux

  • Friday 15 July 2011

One of China's largest wine retailers has announced it will stop promoting the classified estates of the Medoc as their prices make them 'too dangerous'.


Aussino Cellars, which has 200 stores in 100 cities across China, has cancelled a dinner with the Union des Grands Crus and has said it will promote the Right Bank instead of Left Bank wines.

Grace Cai of Aussino told, ‘The prices of the Grand Cru wines are too high because of the booming wine market in China, and it is very dangerous to keep on promoting them.

‘The market is further complicated by forgeries, and by large numbers of importers competing over the same brands. Aussino wants to work with stable and loyal partners, and find good value, high quality wines for the consumer in China.’

The company was planning to hold a wine dinner with the UGC in November during a wine festival at its headquarters in Guangzhou, but has now decided to not run the event.

‘As our consumers become more and more educated about wine, they will realise that they are buying over-heated brands, and we want to offer them wines with stability,’ Cai said.

Aussino is not intending to stop buying Bordeaux, and confirms that consumer demand is still there, but it is shifting its focus to the Right Bank, and more specifically to Pomerol, concentrating on specially-created brands by J-P Moueixand Thienpont, as well as the traditional chateaux.

There is no further information at this stage as to what the new brands will be. Cai confirmed, 'We want exclusive brands. We don't want to compete for the big chateaux brands with other importers, which then further drives up prices.'

UGC president Sylvie Cazes said, ‘We are sorry to hear Aussino doesn’t want to organise the tasting with us this year, but we are committed to China, make at least two trips a year there and would be happy to work with Aussino in the future.’

The owner of Aussino, Robert Shen (sometimes known as Robert Shum in Cantonese) was No 17 in the Decanter Power List 2011 – up from No 28 in 2009.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

An evening with Roger Ravoir at Maison du Vin

Roger Ravoireis not unusual – he is a Frenchman with a passion for wine. He makes red, white and rose at Ravoire et Fils but that passion drives him further still.

But what singles him out from his fellow countrymen is that he also seeks it out at small producers ranging from the Cotes de Provence to the Cotes du Rhone and, when he likes it, he bottles it and puts the good Ravoire name on the case. That mark of quality means the small producer can then tap into Ravoire’s marketing expertise and the wines can be offered to a wider audience.

For the consumer it means we get a decent bottle of wine from any one of hundreds of quality producers, covering an area half the size of Kent, with real character and personality at a price we are all happy to pay in these day s of austerity.

The 09 vintage is a case in point. Roger selected two wines local to his home at the foot of the Luberon Massif, at the crossroads of the Rhône Valley and Provence, to enter the latest Decanter Magazine tasting.

The Olivier Ravoire Cairanne took four stars and the Olivier Ravoire Plan de Dieu was awarded three. But both Cotes du Rhone-Villages wines have that certain je ne sais quoi.

Ravoire said: ‘They are excellent examples of what we can achieve in Provence. The wines were produced just eight kilometres apart and they are totally different. That’s because the terroir and the producer are different.

‘It’s important to me that the identity of each wine grower is preserved. I hope that the quality and competitive price of these wines will help to pull people away from low quality supermarket wine. I work hard to find these wines and it’s very exciting when you come across a small vintage that really delivers that we can sell at a good price for our customers.’

The two award-winning wines, and the rest of Roger Ravoire’s range, are now being exclusively stocked in the UK by Maison du Vin, the niche wine merchant perched halfway up Moor Hill in the beautiful village of Hawkhurst in Kent.

Managing director John Toogood is a big fan of Ravoire’s. John said: ‘These are easy-to-drink wines that are great value. We’re so confident you’ll enjoy them that we’re offering a money-back guarantee if you don’t like them.

‘We believe that wine should always give 100 per cent satisfaction but these Rhone wines really are superb and go with any type of food.’

All of the Ravoir range of superb wines are exclusively available from Maison du Vin

Friday, 25 March 2011

The socking truth about Oddbins!

Apart from the colossal amount of money owed by Oddbins to small independent wine producers across Europe. The beleaguered wine company owes £5.5m to HMRC in unpaid UK wine duty.

So would someone please tell me how they have managed to defer that amount of tax?

If all that is wine? It amounts to an estimated 275,000 cases!

Mind you Oddbins own and control their own bonded warehouse in Wimbledon.

That might have something to do with it?!

Oddbins on the skids!

BREAKING NEWS: Oddbins The high street wine giant has gone into administration!

Once the Wine darling of the high street. Oddbins has struggled in recent years to regain its position as the UK’s top independent.

The company was purchased in 2008 by UK based company Ex Cellar from French giant Castel. Castel's steward ship of Oddbins was widely regarded as a disaster and hopes were high when it came back into UK hands.

Here is how it was reported in Independent Retail news by: Rosie Davenport 4th August 2008

The Oddbins chain has been sold to specialist wine and food retailer Ex Cellar for an undisclosed sum in a surprise deal announced today. Ex Cellar was founded in 1999 by Henry Young and Simon Baile, the son of former Oddbins managing director Nick Baile, who headed up the company in 1973.

Currently, Ex Cellar has two retail outlets in Ashstead and Paris.

The Oddbins senior management team, including Ayo Akintola, HR Director, will remain in their positions. Previous managing director and deputy managing director, Fabrice Bidault and Eudes Morgan, will be replaced by Young as chairman and Baile as managing director.

Baile said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us – Oddbins is a renowned name on the British high street. Our retail background and my knowledge of what used to make Oddbins great will help drive the passion and innovation back into this business. There will be a short period during which we review the current structure and develop plans for the future. This is a cash positive business with plenty of stock, great locations throughout the UK and passionate staff.”

Reading that you have to ask yourselves what the hell happened?

But safe to say, that in the last few years ‘Every wine that has been bought in a UK supermarket is a bottle of wine that has NOT been bought from Oddbins!

Just goes to show that ‘Success is a journey. Not a destination.

Who’s next?

Saturday, 19 March 2011