French wine baron convicted over rankings scandal

French oenologist Hubert de Bouard was charged with conflict of interest over rankings awarded to Saint-Emilion wines.
French oenologist Hubert de Bouard was charged with conflict of interest over rankings awarded to Bordeaux wines. Photo: MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP.
A renowned Bordeaux vineyard owner was found guilty on Monday of giving prestigious official rankings to wines in which he had financial interests or acted as an adviser, a scandal that infuriated rivals who missed out on the lucrative distinctions.

Hubert de Bouard, co-owner of the Chateau Angelus of Saint-Emilion fame – whose bottles sell for hundreds if not thousands of euros – was fined €40,000 by a court in Bordeaux, southwest France.

De Bouard, 65, was charged with conflict of interest over his role in determining the Grand Cru rankings for Saint-Emilion wines from 2010 to 2012, which saw Angelus promoted to the top “A” ranking.

At the time he sat on the national wines committee for France’s National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO), the guardian of the country’s strict food and wine appellations.

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

He was also member of the Saint-Emilion wine industry association that helped define the INAO criteria for the rankings.

Eight other vineyards where De Bouard was an adviser or director also got the coveted awards.

A fellow member of the INAO panel, Philippe Casteja, a wine merchant and owner of the Chateau Trotte Vieille – whose “B” ranking was upheld in 2012 – was acquitted.

Three rival vineyards excluded from the rankings joined the case as plaintiffs, saying the system had been rigged against them, though both De Bouard and Casteja denied any wrongdoing.


Member comments

The Local is not responsible for content posted by users.

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.