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A New Peak for Wine Madness

Can wine connoisseurs can be fooled by clever marketing?

Loïc Pasquet says people pay up to $44,500 a botle from his Laber Pater estate.

A New Peak for Wine Madness.The highest price in the world for a current release wine – customers pay up to €30,000 ($44,500) for the Liber Pater from Bordeaux without an appellation. Sounds amazing but The Financial Review tells us it is true.

“French winemaker Loïc Pasquet’s recreation of Bordeaux wines from the late 19th century earned him the wrath of authorities at home” said the Review story. “It’s also attracted customers prepared to pay up to €30,000 for a bottle from his Liber Pater estate.”

Apparently Pasquet uses varietals, ecosystems and growing techniques that are as close as possible to what was done in Bordeaux more than a century and a half ago.

Fines and convictions

Pasquet’s refusal to play by the strict rules of the French appellation system resulted in fines and convictions. He was charged with transgressions that included planting more densely than was allowed, and permitting grass to grow.

As a result his Liber Pater wines must be sold as “vin de France” rather than under a Bordeaux appellation.

“Makers of fine wines are artists”, Pasquet told the paper while on a sales trip to Singapore.

“We need to touch the limits, to take risks.

“In the United States, in China, in Australia they can make a soup but in Europe, we don’t need to because we have the heritage.

“It’s important to preserve varietals and techniques. If we don’t, they will disappear for eternity. That’s why I fought the administration before. Now I work with them.”

An earlier Financial Review story

What the Review did not refer to in this story was its report in 2016 “French winemaker forced to pay back EU subsidies over fraud”.

That explained that Mr Pasquet was found guilty of fraud over the misuse of almost €592,000 of EU subsidies.

The EU’s money was given to help promote his wine in Russia, China and Brazil.

Doubt was cast on claims he made to have revived long-lost grape varieties from the 19th century.

Catherine Figerou, the state prosecutor, contended that the promotional campaigns were a figment of Mr Pasquet’s imagination.

“He could not ignore the fact that the services were fictional,” she said. Mr Pasquet retorted that he had been tricked by a “crooked” company in Shanghai.

Mr Pasquet had won plaudits in France for planting grape varieties such as Castets, Mancin and Saint-Macaire which were all but wiped out by the phylloxera plague that hit Bordeaux in the mid-1800s. But Caroline Baret, the presiding judge, said: “None of these varieties have ever been used in your wine.”

Mr Pasquet replied that he had spoken about “researching” old wines, but “that did not mean they were present in my bottles”.

The 2016 article concluded that the scandal shows how wine connoisseurs can be fooled by clever marketing.