Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Fake Pinot: Sieur d'Arques – could you make it up?

Truly murky!

'permet à Sieur d’Arques d’assurer la traçabilité du grain de raisin – Merlot –> à la bouteille –> Pinot Noir'

Anyone visiting the Aimery Sieur d'Arques website can see the proud commitments made there – 'nos engagements':

'Assurer la Qualité Totale de son activité

Sieur d’Arques a depuis toujours cultivé le souci de la qualité. Dés 1997 la cave a été impliquée dans une démarche de certification et de sécurité alimentaire. En effet à partir de cette date Sieur d’Arques a commencé la mise en place de l’HACCP sur ses lignes de production, et a été certifiée ISO 9002 en 1999. Suite à l’évolution du référentiel, Sieur d’Arques a fait progresser son système qualité et répond désormais au travers de ses certifications à la norme ISO 9001 :2000 (depuis 1999 – renouvelé en 2008), la norme ISO 22000 :2005 (depuis 2006 – renouvelé en 2008) et le référentiel IFS version 5 niveau supérieur (depuis 2004 – renouvelé en 2008).

Une évaluation constante de ses vins

Dégustation des vins avant leur libération par des œnologues aguerris, dégustations comparatives réalisées par des structures compétentes de la filière, dégustations lors de salons nationaux et internationaux,… Sieur d’Arques dispose ici d’un processus efficace de dégustation de ses vins. Ce processus incontournable évalue la qualité globale des vins pour anticiper la satisfaction du consommateur.

La garantie d’une traçabilité maîtrisée

L’ensemble des enregistrements tout au long du process de fabrication des vins tranquilles et effervescents permet à Sieur d’Arques d’assurer la traçabilité du grain de raisin à la bouteille. Ce système de traçabilité est complémenté d’un dispositif éprouvé de gestion de crise qui permet de répondre avec une grande réactivité tout au long de la chaîne de fabrication et de distribution.

In the light of the Pinot scandal these ringing declarations are more than a little hollow – sadly or hilariously so depending on your point of view. Bearing in mind the volume of fake Pinot Noir that was sold through Sieur d'Arques to the Americans it is impossible now to read this paragraph with a straight face:

'Ensuring traceability control

The tracking process throughout the production of still and sparkling wines allows Sieur d’Arques to ensure traceability from the grape to the bottle. This traceability system is completed with a proven crisis management system which makes it easier to be pro-active throughout the entire production and distribution chains.'


I am aware that there is technically a difference between the company that owns the website – Aimery Sieur d'Arques – and the company – Les Caves du Sieur d'Arques SARL SICA Cooperative – that sold the 'Pinot Noir', was condemned and fined by the court in Carcassonne. There is third Sieur d'Arques company – Les Vignerons du Sieur d'Arques Société Coopérative Agricole – which makes sparkling wine. However, their Aimery website generally uses Sieur d'Arques without qualification, Pierre Mirc is in charge of all three (his title varies) and Alain Gayda is the chief editor (redacteur en chef) of the Aimery website. Thus the distinction is surely technical. 

As well as assuring the 'traceability' of Merlot and Syrah into Pinot Noir, one can well imagine the renowned '
proven crisis management system' swinging into action when the news came through that the fraud squad had busted Claude Courset at Ducasse. A scene rich in comic potential:

"Holy shit!" "That stupid motherf*ck**!" What the f**k are we going to do?" "I'm an oenologist – I know nothing." " "We know nuffink!" "It wasn't us – it was 'im, officer!". "When the police ask –  just act stoopid!"


Anonymous said...

That's your only mistake, Jim! Selling fake pinot to greedy American dimwits has nothing to do with a crisis, it is a commercial opportunity. So who needs a crisis management system anyway... ;-))

The Masked Avenger

Jim's Loire said...

Masked Avenger – I can see your point but the 'crisis' relates to the French fraud squad adn gettin' caught.

Red Indigo said...

Good to see a return of common sense in your analysis. Amongst the comments pronounced in the Carcassonne court by various accused, cited by local press but not coming out in international coverage were the following ; - "If the customer had wanted us to put Yoplait on the label we would have done." - "Because the wine (Pinot) was destined to the United States, this affair doesn't concern France." - "Pinot is not the name of a grape variety but is a trade mark. The variety name is Pinot Noir" (Sieur d'Arque's lawyer). Another detail unknown internationally is the fact that the agent Ducasse was one of the 2 lavomatics in the affair. The other one, washing redder than red, is called Alain Maurel, past, present and future president of the Languedoc-Roussillon branch of the Crédit Agricole, a bank which is not entirely unknown. Négociant-vigneron running the Château de Ventenac, he has been previously accused in a number of scandals and will continue as the major regional financier. His fine, for which he has appealed, is less than 10% of the estimated profit he made on three years' sales of merlot and syrah sold as Pinot. It's good to know what you have in a bottle of wine.

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks Red Indidgo.I need details of the scandals of which you say Alain Maurel is accused. Best if you email them to me please. Otherwise I will have to delete this section of your post.