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The grape and the good

Given the number of scandals and tribunals involving politicians during the past few years, you could be forgiven for wondering if they are all congenital liars and fraudsters, or if there's just a few rotten apples?

You might start to wonder the same thing about the wine trade, too, if you read that Gallo's French wine supplier for its Red Bicyclette brand was recently found guilty of fraud, after selling it large amounts of popular variety Pinot Noir, which turned out to be some other varietal. No one was poisoned, but Gallo has copped flak for not spotting the problem sooner.

Hot on the heels of that scam was news of arrests in an alleged fraud involving a London-based company investing in Australian fine wines, and since then there are warnings of fake bottles of Bollinger being offered to London retailers.

The most infamous fraud of recent decades was the 1985 Austrian 'antifreeze' scandal, when diethylene glycol was added to wines. It was only uncovered when a producer tried to reclaim VAT on the chemical. No one died, but sadly many did the following year in Italy, after wine was adulterated with methanol.

Just a few rotten apples? Maybe I'm naïve, but I'd say yes, as in more than 25 years of working in all areas of the wine trade, including production, I've not come across anyone involved in fraud and reckon that what the label says is pretty well mostly what you get. Maybe politicians are more honest than we realise, too?

Follow Martin at twitter.com/winerepublic