A court in the southern French city of Carcassonne sentenced twelve wine growers from the Languedoc to suspended prison terms and effective fines. They sold 18 million bottles of fake Pinot Noir to U.S. wine giant Ernest and Julio Gallo. The unsuspecting company sold the adulterated wine in the U.S. market under the brand name Red Bicyclette. The twelve convicts sold to Gallo between 2006 and 2008 130,000 hectoliters inferior Vin de Pays d’Oc as Pinot Noir to negotiate a higher price. That way they could double their sales to four million euro. The amount of Pinot Noir that they sold to Gallo, however, was higher than the entire Pinot Noir production of the Languedoc. This led French Customs to discover the fraud. Some of the growers even cultivated no Pinot Noir. The cooperative Sieur d’Arques in Limoux was fined the highest penalty, 180,000 euro. The U.S. wine magazine Wine Spectator awarded the Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir 2006 83 points. The taster of service did not notice that his bottle contained no Pinot Noir. The wine is sold in the U.S. for about $ 11. Bottles of adulterated Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir are still scattered throughout the U.S. market.
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