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French Cooperage Firms Convicted of Fraud

December 15, 2010

This just in from our stringer in France: While the news was published in French newspapers weeks ago, it does not appear that it ever surfaced in any English language publications:

Last October, the magistrate’s court of Angouleme found Taransaud and Doreau cooperage firms guilty of misleading their customers with regards to the origin of the oak used to make some of their wine barrels and casks. This is the first time that a cooperage firm in France has been prosecuted for fraud.

Taransaud got off with a warning and Doreau was only charged a 3,000 euro fine. Both companies, situated in the region of Cognac, were found guilty of passing off oak from Lorraine and Eastern Europe for wood from the forest of Tronçais in central France. The French Frauds Office uncovered this situation 18 months ago during a France-wide investigation, 10 years after a previous inquiry which had already brought to light numerous breaches of conduct.

When checking through the books of Taransaud, which manufactures around 50,000 barrels per year, and Doreau, which makes around 12,000, the inspectors found that some of the wood purchased by the firms had been passed off to their customers as oak from central France. However, Taransaud argued that its use of the term Allier was in reference to a type of grain and not to a specific region of origin. Doreau was also found guilty for not drying some of its stave-woods for the minimum required period. In addition to the cooperage firms, JG Partner, a wood trader from Cognac, was fined 10,000 euro for passing off Rumanian or Ukrainian wood for French oak.

Wine Business Monthly previously reported that some French cooperages were being investigated.

Many cooperages are talking more about grain tightness lately and less about the forests, see "Trends: Grain vs. Forest," WBM May 2009.

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