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 TrĂ©lisssac, 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.