A shocking exposé of France’s wine industry by an acclaimed French journalist, Vino Business reveals the big-money deals, speculation, and shady practices that go on even in many of the most prestigious châteaux in Bordeaux and beyond
The Cloudy World of French Wine
“Is Premier Cru wine all just a con? Car parks and bribes influence the classification of wines in the Bordeaux region of southwest France according to [this] new book.”Daily Mail
978-0-8021-2570-5 • $16.00 • Paperback • Nov. 2016
For centuries a bastion of tradition and excellence, Bordeaux has in recent years become dogged by controversy, particularly regarding the 2012 classification of the wines of St.-Émilion, the most prestigious appellation of Bordeaux’s right bank. St.-Émilion is an area increasingly dominated by big international investors, especially from China, who are keen to speculate on the area’s wines and land, some of whose value has increased tenfold in the last decade alone. In the controversial 2012 classification, as Saporta shows, certain châteaux were promoted to a more prestigious class because of insider deals that altered the scoring system for the classification of wines into premier crus and grand crus. This system now takes into account the facilities of each château’s tasting room, the capacity of its warehouse, and even the size of its parking lot. The quality of the wine counts for just 30 percent of the total score for the wines of the top ranking, those deemed premier grand cru classé A.
In Vino Business, Saporta shows how backroom deals with wine distributors, multinational investors such as the luxury company LVMH, and even wine critics, have fundamentally changed this ancient business in the course of a decade. Saporta also investigates issues of wine labeling and the use of pesticides, and draws comparisons to Champagne, Burgundy, and the rest of the wine world. Based on two years of research and reporting, Vino Business draws back the curtain on the secret world of Bordeaux, a land ever more in thrall to the grapes of wealth.