Its fruity red wines were once so prized by British drinkers that crowds would race to France each November to buy the newest bottles. But now beaujolais, already struggling with falling sales, has been hit by scandal as police investigate the illegal smuggling of sugar to winemakers to artificially improve certain wines.
Four people have been arrested and bailed on suspicion of belonging to a sugar smuggling network. More than 60 producers may be questioned in the new year.
Police believe more than 600 tonnes of sugar were bought illegally between 2004 and last year by certain beaujolais winemakers seeking to raise alcohol levels. Middlemen bought the sugar from supermarkets just outside the region without receipts in order to leave no trace, then sold it to winemakers. The traffic may have been in place for up to 10 years.
Adding sugar to boost alcohol levels in certain cheaper wines is a long-established practice in northern climates lacking the sunshine to develop sufficient natural sugars.
But the practice is strictly regulated and overstepping limits is illegal. The group Inter Beaujolais, which represents winemakers in the area, issued a statement this week "very strongly condemning these illegal practices."
It deplored "the very bad impact such practices could have on the image of the region and its wines."
Beaujolais is already battling claims that it churned out cheap plonk. Despite a large Japanese market in beaujolais nouveau, world sales are falling. Last month, during the launch of this year's beaujolais nouveau, winemakers urged a boycott of French supermarkets selling the wines for as little as 1.5 euros (US$2.16) a bottle.
The French agriculture minister, Michel Barnier, yesterday opposed key sections of an EU wine reform plan to help struggling vintners compete against the new world and limit European overproduction.
At least 25 people were yesterday killed in an attack on a Sikh-Hindu temple in Afghanistan’s capital where worshippers were offering morning prayers, the latest assault claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. The incident came as the nation reels from a US$1 billion cut in US aid and struggles with a raging insurgency, political deadlock and rising coronavirus cases. Witness Raju Singh Sonny told reporters that a man dressed in a police uniform burst into the temple in central Kabul, shot a guard and started attacking worshippers in the main hall. “Several other attackers also entered the building and they were going
The COVID-19 pandemic might weigh on the nation’s economy through the second quarter and erase up to 1.4 percentage points from GDP growth this year in the worst-case scenario, National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said yesterday. The government would seek to retain GDP growth of more than 2 percent by introducing relief funds and stimulus measures that could be stepped up if necessary, she said. “The virus outbreak might affect the economy for six months,” twice as long as previously expected, as it has spread to Europe and the US, Chen told a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Economics Committee
Italy has logged a shocking spike in its already staggering COVID-19 death toll, with officials warning the peak of the crisis was still days away, as the global infection rate surges relentlessly upward. With more than 300,000 people infected in Europe alone, the disease shows few signs of slowing. Italy recorded 969 deaths from the virus on Friday — the worst one-day toll anywhere since the pandemic began. One COVID-19 patient, a cardiologist from Rome who has since recovered, recalled his experience at a hospital in the Italian capital. “The treatment for the oxygen therapy is painful, looking for the radial artery is difficult.
DANGEROUS TREND: The rocketing infection rate has sparked a rush to buy guns, US store owners said, as customers start to panic about societal breakdown World leaders were yesterday set to hold online crisis talks on the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced 3 billion people into lockdown and claimed more than 21,000 lives. With the disease tearing around the globe at a terrifying pace, warnings are multiplying over its economic consequences, with experts saying it could cause more damage than the Great Depression. Amid squabbling between the leaders of China and the US over who is to blame, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the world to act together to halt the menace. “COVID-19 is threatening the whole of humanity,” Guterres said. “Global action and solidarity are crucial.