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wine scandal

scandale vinicole (F)
winescandal (GB)
frode o sofisticazione (I)

Incidents in this regard go as far as antiquity back. Bypassing wine law regulations, attempts are made to “improve” the quality through unauthorized additives or through manipulations such as misnomer or blending with inferior wines to fake a false identity. The most spectacular or extensive counterfeits of modern times are described below:

Art wine scandal Italy 1968

In the 1960s, Italian wines became popular, and millions of Hekotliters were introduced, particularly in Germany. Among them were cheapest products from alleged brands like Chianti (in the kitschy, bast-wrapped wicker bottles), Lambrusco and Valpolicella who had never seen the growing areas in question. Many were with sugar and water enriched with bovine blood and the plant slime agar Aagar (from algae) and the fiery shine created by adding plaster. Over 200 wine counterfeiters were reported, some of them also river water and sweeten had used the broth of tainted figs or bananas. The wine law with the DOC system had obviously not yet gripped.

Gkykol scandal Austria 1985

During an interview with Josef in 2010 Pleil, the long-term president of the Austrian Wine Association, explained the background to the glycol scandal in 1985 (greatly shortened): the roots for the wine scandal probably date back to the early 1970s. In order to prevent the migration of many small farmers, every winemaker from the border country was authorized to plant an additional 0.5 hectares per farm. The aim was to prevent the many small farmers from entering the Vienna labor market. After only five years, this resulted in an expansion of the vineyards of around 15,000 hectares and thus an overproduction. In the early 1980s, however, wine consumption across Europe declined. At that time there was a good demand for sweet wines in Germany. Now some "resourceful specialists" tried to meet this need by pretending high quality predicate wines from simple cheap table wines by adding diethylene glycol and offering them at the cheapest prices. In the beginning it worked quite well.

In December 1984, a hitherto unknown man with a German accent dived into the agricultural-chemical federal institute Wien set up a bottle with a water-bright, syrup-like liquid on the table and remarked: "This is what the Austrian wine forger scene uses" . It was diethylene glycol which is used in antifreeze. After mass production in the 1970s and the fall in prices in Austria quality wines the state winery inspectors had long had a vague suspicion. So much Prädikatswein couldn't be created naturally. However, requests for house searches from suspected wine merchants were regularly dismissed by the court as disproportionate.

wine scandal Of course, there was also back then analytical quality samples for wines, but the detection limit at this point was 200 mg diethylene glycol per liter of wine. But that was known in the Austrian wine forger scene. In order to keep the glycol content below the laboratory detection limit, one in ten was mixed with genuine wine. The above described reference now refined the laboratory methods in Austria, and now the glycol wine was medium Gas chromatography method recognizable as adulterated from 5 mg / l. When word got around in the counterfeiting scene, wastewater treatment plants collapsed because the glycol wine was poured into the canal in extreme amounts not known to this day, only to avoid being caught or caught. Hundreds of thousands of hectoliters of wine had to be burned to industrial alcohol.

The majority were produced by winegrowers Lower Austria and Burgenland, a chemist also provided advice. The diethylene glycol was added to make the wine more “ body and Lieblichkei t ”or candy, which was particularly popular with consumers at that time Germany was appreciated. Glycol not only became more common table wine processed into quality wine, but also thousands of hectoliters Art wine generated . These liquids looked and tasted like wine, but had never been in contact with grapes or wine. It just became water with ao tartaric acid. malic acid Potash glycerin, Deer horn salt and diethylene glycol mixed. The remedy is not without risk. The limit is 16 g / l, which can even be fatal to sensitive people. This lot was in a Burgenland Eiswein demonstrated. Due to the mostly low concentration, there was hardly any health damage. The most common side effects were nausea and kidney problems. There were no seriously ill or even dead people.

The stone finally got rolling when a winemaker wanted to claim a conspicuously large amount of antifreeze against tax, even though he only had a small tractor. The targeted controls started at the beginning of April 1985. A similar picture was found in 34 of 38 samples taken at the first checked operation in Apetlon, at a second winery in Podersdorf. Finally, on April 23, 1985, the Department of Agriculture raised the alarm and warned of the glycol wines. A total of 55 detective officers carried out 850 house searches among winegrowers, retailers and chemical companies. A total of 80 suspects were arrested in July 1985 and February 1986. Around 23 million liters of wine were confiscated and the total volume of counterfeit wines could never be clarified. According to the investigation, at least 340 tons of diethylene glycol have been added to the wines since 1976.

The scandal finally spread beyond the Austrian borders, because the majority of the adulterated wines were delivered to Germany, where some of them were "processed". From large German wine bottlers from the state Rheinland-Pfalz German wine was illegally adulterated with Austrian glycol wine. The company in particular Pieroth was targeted by the investigative authorities. The company denied knowing about the machinations. The negative climax came from sensational reports in West German newspapers. The headline of the Bild newspaper of July 12, 1985 was "Frost protection wine on Grandma's birthday - 11 poisoned" . As a result, a media campaign against Austrian and especially Burgenland wines broke out, which eventually found its way all over Europe and overseas. Even the “New York Times” brought the scandal to the front page. The BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) had all Austrian wines withdrawn from circulation.

Wine scandal - articles in the courier and in the mirror

After lengthy investigations, there were 325 complaints, 52 criminal complaints for violations of the food or wine law and 21 charges for commercial fraud. From the subsequent criminal trials, it emerged that the first “applications” in Austria were probably made to a smaller extent from the 1976 vintage. The vintages from 1980 to 1984 were particularly badly affected, because the wine dealers involved in particular “became increasingly greedy” according to testimony. This was done with great criminal energy and sophistication. The tankers for export had been manipulated in such a way that the tap intended for taking samples led to a small container with about 200 liters, which contained unadulterated wine. Some of the convicts were imprisoned for up to eight years in the long-term trial. One of them committed suicide. Large wine merchants went bankrupt, even if they were not directly involved, and large wine producers had to file for bankruptcy.

The image damage was considerable and led the Austrian wine industry to the brink of ruin. In the United States The FBI prevented the ÖVP politician Alois Mock (1934-2017) from handing over Austrian wine as a guest gift when President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) visited. Austria's wine exports fell by 95% overnight. At the end of 1986 the ÖWM (Austria Wine Marketing) was founded to help alleviate the consequences of the scandal with marketing measures. However, the incident ultimately caused something very positive. The National Council decided on the new one at the end of August 1985 wine law, which was described as the "strictest wine law in the world". Among other things, each bottle had to have one banderole be equipped (was in 2008 by round label on shutter replaced) to prevent abuse.

Methanol scandal Italy 1985/1986

It came in in the 1970s Italy to a wine boom. Especially from the masses yield suitable red wine variety Barbera were in huge quantities mass wines hergstellt. The so-called “methanol scandal” became public in 1985 and 1986, which affected many Barbera wines due to the large quantities. Among other things were the DOC wines Barbera d'Asti. Barbera del Monferrato and Piemonte del Barbera underneath. The wines became the cheap and extremely toxic type of alcohol methanol added to the alcohol content to increase. Above a certain amount, this leads to blindness and, in extreme cases, to death. There were hundreds of sick people and eight dead. The main supplier of this jug was a wholesaler from Manduria near Taranto in Apulia, As a result, these wines were almost unsaleable and the stocks of the variety were almost halved.

Château Lafite-Rothschild fake Hong Kong 2002

Fakes of Bordeaux wines often come from China, It is estimated that there are around nine times more high-quality Bordeaux wine on the market than France produces. A hotel in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou sold 40,000 bottles of Château Lafit-Rothschild each year. However, the winery only delivers around 50,000 bottles a year to all of China. Around 300,000 bottles are to be marketed there every year. This means that more than eight out of ten bottles are counterfeit. The procedure is relatively simple. A cheap wine from Bordeaux is filled into a bottle similar to the Châteu Lafite-Rothschild and sealed with a large vintage cork with the Lafite brand mark. Finally, a fake label is attached, which is easy to manufacture with today's means (scanning the original and changing the year). Possibly. original falses are used, because business is profitable even with smaller quantities.

At the beginning of 2002 it was discovered that middle-priced red wines from Bordeaux with counterfeit labels and capsules in one in Hong Kong Château Lafite-Rothschild Vintage 1982 were transformed, a 100 points rated and extremely expensive Wine of the century, The bottles were worth around € 25 and then fetched up to 25 times the price as “Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1982” - that is, per bottle € 625. However, business is slowing because the government has launched a campaign against corruption, waste and luxury Has. President Xi Jinping wants to give his Communist Party some credibility again.

Brunellopoli scandal Italy 2008

A second scandal called “Brunellopoli” or by the Anglo-American press “Brunellogate” (derived from “Watergate”) occurred in 2008. Some companies, including the well-known ones Antinori Argiano Banfi and Frescobaldi, have been suspected of counterfeiting. The public prosecutor confiscated this, which had an impact on the public at the wine fair Vinitaly, several million bottles of DOCG Brunello di Montalcino of the 2003 vintage. The specific reproach was, instead of the only permitted variety Brunello ( Sangiovese clone ) also Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the south.

In May 2008, the responsible US import authority decided to stop importing the Brunello. Ultimately, this also led to a change in the production regulations. Many winegrowers, including Angelo Gaja, proposed to relax the rules and no longer have to make the wine from 100% Brunello-Sangiovese in order to make it more competitive. Ultimately, however, the strict rule remained. The seized 6.5 million liters of Brunello and 0.7 million liters Rosso di Montalcino had to be a DOC or IGT be marketed. There was hardly any evidence of counterfeiting and only a few people were convicted.

Methanol scandal in the Czech Republic in 2012 with 50 deaths

Around 500 were raided in Zlin in South Moravia Vodka-. Rum- and fruit fire - Bottles with fake branded labels ensured. A high methanol content was found in the samples found. There were numerous deaths in the following years, with a number of unreported cases. In total, up to 50 deaths are assumed, and 50 other people suffered serious health problems.

Wine scandal Italy 2019

In July 2019, the police in the regions Abruzzo. Apukien. Campania and Lazio a total of 62 wineries and apartments on suspicion of wine forgery. Most enrichment and more illegal oenological Techniques searched. The prosecutor ordered four wine companies and 30 million liters of allegedly adulterated wine to be confiscated. The allegations:

Cheaper Spanish Wine was considered Italian DOC and IGT Quality sold at dumping prices. must became unlawful with sugar and other illegal additives enriched to increase the production volume. Badly faulty wine is also said to have illegal cellar techniques fined have been. In addition, an employee of the central Italian unit for food control and fraud prevention was accused of informing the companies concerned about the internal aspects of the authority and upcoming controls.

further counterfeiting

Two cases with extensive falsifications of old vintages from Bordeaux and Burgundy are described in their own keywords. The German wine rarity collector Hardy Rodenstock (1941-2018) a fraudulent intention could never be proven. It was very well at Rudy, the Indonesian wine merchant Kurniawan the case sentenced to ten years in prison for fraud. See general information with historical background information and wine law issues under wine adulteration,

Glycol scandal: The wine scandal, Walter Brüders, Verlag Denkmayr, ISBN 3901838457
Pleil interview: Wiener Zeitung July 19, 2010

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