Spanish winemaker accused of large-scale mislabelling scam

A Spanish wine producer has been accused of large-scale fraud, passing off millions of cheap table wine as better quality vintages in a fraud that according to prosecutors were sold in supermarket chains including Lidl and Aldi.

Six unidentified people linked to the Grupo Reserva de la Tierra company are named in the lawsuit, which claims that they made around €14m a year from the scam, reported to be the largest of its kind in Spain.

The company has now gone into administration, according to media reports, and an injunction granted on the sale of 18 brands it sells.

According to the suit, the defendants pretended their wines were from higher-quality regions including Denominació d'Origen (DO) Terra Alta, Tarragona, Catalunya and Montsant and Denominació d'Origen Qualificada (DOQ) Priorat, selling at least 22 million bottles in Spain as well as the US and China, according to an article in newspaper Ara.

An investigation into the activities of the producer started in 2020 after a routine inspection of a supermarket in Falset, Catalonia, which revealed bottles with falsified DO Montsant labels.

A subsequent raid on premises owned by the company led to the seizure of more than 750,000 fake bottles as well as bulk falsified labels, according to court documents. Some wins

The case is due to go to court in Tarragona on September 21 and 22, and so far none of the defendants have entered a plea.

In July, police in France uncovered another major Bordeaux wine counterfeiting operation that involved buying low-quality wine from other areas including Spain, then bottling it up as more expensive Medic vintages.

In that case, prosecutors estimated that the gang may have distributed "several hundred thousand" counterfeit bottles.

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