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Opus One Sues Supplier Alleging Barrels Were Contaminated with TCA

by Kerana Todorov
December 13, 2018

A Napa Valley winery has filed a lawsuit for more than $470,000 over the sale of barrels allegedly contaminated with 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), according to court records.

Opus One Winery LLC alleges 10 French oak wine barrels were contaminated with TCA, resulting in the loss of 590 gallons of Cabernet Sauvignon. 

The defendants listed in the lawsuit include Alain Fouquet and Associates Inc., Alain Fouquet French Cooperage, Bouyoud Distribution and associated entities, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in Napa County Superior Court.

Opus One seeks at least $471,356 in damages, which include wine losses, $9,800 for the 10 barrels and testing expenses, according to the lawsuit. Opus One also seeks lawsuit-related costs, according to the court filing.

The wine allegedly contaminated in the defective barrels could have been sold for about $140 per bottle wholesale, according to the complaint.

Opus One in July 2016 received 150 barrels, including the 10 that are the subject of the lawsuit, according to court documents. The barrels were certified to be TCA-free for three years, according to the court filing.

However, an Opus One employee in January 2017 detected an odor of TCA in one of the barrels, according to the complaint. Opus One sent samples from each of the 150 barrels to a laboratory, according to the court filing.

Test results allegedly showed heightened levels of TCA in 10 of the barrels, according to the complaint. The wine – about 590 gallons of Cabernet Sauvignon – was removed and placed into three storage vessels and tested, according to the court filing. Laboratory test results showed each of the wine samples contained TCA, the complaint alleged.

Opus One alleges “errors in the selection of the oak wood staves used to construct the (barrels), errors in the storage, maintenance or cleaning of the (barrels), and failure to properly inspect and test the (barrels) before delivering them to (the plaintiff),” according to the lawsuit.

Alain Fouquet on Wednesday referred questions to Bouyoud Distribution, saying he is only a distributor for the barrels.

Alain Fouquet and Associates Inc. is a distributor for the brand Alain Fouquet French Cooperage, Fouquet said. TFF Group of France owns Bouyoud and Alain Fouquet French Cooperage, TFF’s website indicates. Neither TFF nor Bouyoud representatives could be immediately reached to comment on the complaint.

An attorney representing Opus One said he was not authorized to comment on the lawsuit.

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