2 October 2014 | Wine cutting: Dominique Giroud sets the record straight

Press release

On 21 February 2014, the RTS suggested that Dominique Giroud was a dishonest winegrower who did not hesitate to tamper with hundreds of thousands of litres of wine in order to enrich himself. False and defamatory, these insinuations caused a wave of indignation that ruined the reputation of Dominique Giroud and his company. Today, to restore his integrity and that of an entire economic sector, he is explaining himself by re-establishing the facts and putting them into context.

Lausanne, 2 October 2014 - On 21 February 2014, journalist Yves Steiner wrote a report, broadcast on the 19:30 programme on the French television channel RTSThis is the latest in a series of allegations by the French press that Dominique Giroud is an unscrupulous winegrower who tampers with his vats and misleads consumers in order to enrich himself. These extremely serious insinuations led to a wave of indignation that has tarnished and probably ruined forever the reputation of a man and his company. Today, Dominique Giroud has decided to explain himself, to set the facts straight and to put them in context.

Is it legal to cut a wine? Why is wine cut? How is the blending of wines regulated in Switzerland? Why is blending to maximise the price of wine tolerated? Who monitors winegrowers in Switzerland? How many irregularities are detected each year? What penalties are applied? By providing precise answers to these questions, Dominique Giroud aims to help combat the suspicion of cheating that hangs over him and his entire profession. A better understanding of how the wine chain works should lead to a better understanding of the context in which winemakers and wine merchants can make mistakes. Who doesn't?

Today, due to a lack of knowledge, winegrowers are scandalised and put on the front pages of newspapers for the slightest oversight - Dominique Giroud was the first to suffer the consequences. And yet, on the whole, the system works. Winegrowers have the room for manoeuvre they need to respond differently to consumer expectations. When they commit irregularities, they are warned or penalised. In the end, and this is what counts, Swiss wines are of excellent quality. Of course, there's always room for improvement, but the existing system has proved its worth. Summary judgements and hasty condemnations must give way to a more nuanced appreciation of how the wine chain works. With the list of questions and answers attached to this press release, Dominique Giroud hopes to make his contribution to this public debate. Here is a summary for readers in a hurry:

  • Although little known to the general public, the blending of wines is, in certain proportions, a perfectly legal and well-regulated practice. Both in Switzerland and internationally, it is based on the commonly accepted 85/15 rule, i.e. the possibility of blending up to a maximum of 15% of another wine of the same colour into a batch.
  • Dominique Giroud has owned a winery since 1992. From the outset, his aim has always been to comply scrupulously with the law and regulations, including those governing the blending of wines, where the tolerated limits are particularly strict in Valais. With very few exceptions, this objective has been achieved. Its oenological mastery has been rewarded with more than 300 medals and other recognitions, both in Switzerland and internationally. These accolades have been won for the quality of the products, which is Dominique Giroud's primary concern, and he has always surrounded himself with the best oenologists, including Daniel Dufaux (President of the Swiss Union of Oenologists), Philippe Corthay (former professor at Changins, consultant oenologist), and Steve Blais from Michel Rolland Conseils (one of the most renowned consultancies in Bordeaux and the world).
  • Since 2005, the Giroud cellars have sold between 3.5 and 9.5 million litres of wine year after year. Regrettable though they are, the exceptions singled out by RTS should be seen in context: they concern less than 6,000 litres of wine, or 0.03% of the 19 million litres sold over the period in question. On average, the deviation from the authorised blending limit (15%) is small: 2.4%. The inadvertent gain is so tiny as to be anecdotal: it amounts to less than 15,000 francs on sales of around one hundred million francs over the period in question. What's more, most of the discrepancies date back to 2007, which was a year of transition for Giroud Vins: that year, the harvest took place in the midst of the extraordinary construction work to equip the company with its new ultra-modern cellar in Sion.
  • The discrepancies observed in Dominique Giroud's cellar are regrettable oversights, as can happen in any human activity, but they are neither systematic nor intentional. As far as the law is concerned, they are not serious enough to justify the systematic campaign of demolition that their author has been the target of for months in the media.

This press release is accompanied by a list of frequently asked questions about blending wines.

Press release dated 2 October 2014

Picture of Dominique Giroud

Dominique Giroud

I'm facing a media storm. I've been wrongly accused of tampering with my wines to make money. Journalists have overdramatised and criticised without any nuance. In so doing, they have tarnished and perhaps ruined forever my reputation as an oenologist. Faced with these accusations, I have decided to publish my version of events on this website.

Readers will be the judge.

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