06 July, 2000

(Too much) hullabaloo in the coop

Strictly spoken it all comes down to a bit of sugar and some numbers that ought not to be there. But when the third ingredient of the cocktail is champagne, keywords such as multimillion fraud, loss of prestige and policeinvestigation pops up along.

Three of the chief executives from the cooperative Champagne Esterlin - the chairman, the manager and the cavist - seem to have been just a bit too entrepreneurial in the past years. The authorities in Chalons-en-Champagne at the moment investigate the following three counts:

  • Ordinary champagne without year were sold for more money as vintage champagne.
  • Extra sugar has been added to the unfermented wine.
  • Funding of the cooperative seems to have financed the purchase of other compagnies to the benefit of two of the involved persons.

    Exceptional matters in the house of Esterlin, founded in 1948, who as late as 1995 established its administration in a stately villa on the prestigious avenue de Champagne in Épernay. It is said to be the most valuable in the world due to the contents of the deep cavea under as gilt-edged names as Moët et Chandon, Mercier and many more. And Esterlin...

    Bad for the reputation
    The false vintage champagnes - and not the least: the extra sugar - has unbeatable made it into one of the hottest conversation topics at the gardenparties of the area this month.

    Everybody - almost - seem to have an opinion, since they all connect with at least one vigneron, cavist or wineworker. People who all make their living from a local product, more expensive than other sparkling wines. One reason is its great reputation.

    A reputation that does seem to get some of a blow when three of the executives of the business are under investigation for something as simple as cheating and fraud.

    Esterlin has confirmed that the cooperative at the moment is being investigated, but does not want to comment further. All three are released on bail.

    På dansk

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