Yes, another major wine scandal has been uncovered. This time involving the French (who else? and giant US wine company Gallo. It seems that for the past few years some French producers have been supplying Gallo with what was supposed to be wine made from the Pinot Noir grape? Turns out that it is anything else but! The thirteen wine producers and traders on trial in the Gallo wine scandal were found guilty of having supplied a large quantity of fake Pinot Noir wines and six were handed a suspended prison sentence in a rare case in which the president of the criminal court said on Wednesday that the fraud had been committed.Claude Courset of the Ducasse wine traders was sentenced to a six-month suspended prison sentence with a fine of €45,000 though the prosecutor had asked for a harsher prison sentence.Five other people were sentenced to fines of between €3,000 and 6,000 and the remaining six for less. The trading firm of Limoux was ordered to pay €180,000 in penalties, according to aThe order is likely to be appealed against.The 13 defendants, including executives from wine estates, cooperatives, a broker, wine merchant Ducasse and conglomerate Sieur d'Arques, were accused of selling 18 million bottles of fake Pinot Noir to Gallo of California. The wine was sold under Gallo's popular "Red Bicyclette" Pinot Noir label though made from far less expensive grape varieties.At an earlier court hearing on January 25, public prosecutor Francis Battut asked for tough sentences, including heavy fines, suspended jail sentences and up to 12 months in jail for one of the defendants.All but two senior executives had admitted their guilt.Scandal reportedly erupted in March 2008 when France's fraud squad, the General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), became suspicious during an audit at Ducasse. He had been buying Pinot Noir at €58 per hL when the official market price was €97 and generic local grape varieties were selling for €45 hL. Also, the volume of wine from the Pinot Noir grape being sold to Gallo far exceeded the possible supply from the region.On the basis of a year-long judicial investigation, the defendants were accused of substituting wine made from less expensive local grape varieties for the Pinot Noir, which is popular on the American market."What worries me the most for my country are the economic consequences," prosecutor Battut said in a telephone interview with AFP, the French news agency." If Americans lose confidence in French wine production, particularly the Languedoc region, which is already going through a serious crisis, the consequences could be terrible."