Synopses & Reviews
Published in France to huge media attention and great debate within the wine community worldwide, Vino Business
exposes big money interests and corruption within the wine industry in France, particularly in Bordeaux.
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 Bordeauxs right bank. St.-Émilion is an area increasingly dominated by big international investors, especially from China, who are keen to speculate on the areas 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 châteaus tasting room, the size of its warehouse, and even the extent of its parking lot. The quality of the wine counts for just 30% 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 like 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.
International Praise for Vino Business
Gossip as poisonous as pesticides, anonymous informants, rampant greed . . . the latest primetime TV drama? No, its just St.-Émilion. . . . A new book, Vino Business, by French journalist Isabelle Saporta, has caused a firestorm for its criticism of the French wine trade . . . . If its causing this much uproar, thinks Lucile Carle, whose family owns St.-Émilion Château Croque-Michotte, its because she put her finger on the sore spot.”Wine Spectator
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 (UK)
Isabelle Saporta bases the book on a true investigation, field work that cannot be contested, work that many of her detractors, the people who snipe at her from behind their keyboards, would do well to be inspired by, even if they might not share her conclusions.”Le Point (France)
On the basis of interviews with big hitters of the region, the book recounts the almost feudal battles that are waged to change the classification of a château . . . In just twenty years, this wine has lost its magic aura. The decent, less well-off wine-lover must now search out a lesser known producer who is more faithful to tradition and more respectful to nature. Thank goodness such people do still exist.”La Presse (Canada)
Vino Business addresses head on the law of silence that surrounds the 2012 St.-Émilion classification, as well as the effects of the high doses of pesticides that are used in some of the most reputed vineyards in the world. . . . Judging by the reaction to its publication it seems that this book, which concludes that more transparency is needed regarding the fabrication and classification of these great wines, is asking the right questions."Le Parisien
"The seemingly idyllic vineyards surrounding St.-Émilion are depicted as the setting for a sordid soap opera. . . . The author, investigative journalist Isabelle Saporta, doesn't hold back in questioning the French institutions and traditions that the country's wine industry prides itself on. She's also forthright in her writing on certain individuals. . . . The book is a juicy read and is likely to sell a lot of copies.”Wine-Searcher.com (United Kingdom)
[In Vino Business] the criteria for the St.-Émilion classification are roundly criticizedas they should be. . . . The 2012 classification is being once again attacked in court. If any of the litigants win, that will surely be the definitive end of it.”BordeauxWineEnthusiasts.com
There is a vicious power game going on behind the beautiful façades of Bordeaux châteaux. . . . an intriguing book. . . Among the most famous and prestigious châteaux, vino business is deadly serious and, just as in love and war, all methods seem to be fair. If you thought the châteaux were all good neighbours, then you have deceived yourself. . . . [Vino Business] reinforces my belief that classifications are completely unnecessary, not to say directly bad for consumers.”BKWine.com, Sweden
[Saporta] laments (both in the book and her interviews) how regions like St.-Émilion that were once home to family producers have given way to multi-millionaire investors. She added that it was easiest to see in Bordeaux as it is the richest region in France but that similar parallels might be drawn in Champagne or even Burgundy.”TheDrinksBusiness.com
Already provoking debate and garnering significant attention in France and within the wine world, Vino Business
is a surprising and eye-opening book about the dark side of French wine, by acclaimed investigative journalist Isabelle Saporta. While Bordeaux has been a bastion of winemaking tradition and excellence for centuries, in recent decades the industry has changed dramatically under the influence of large-scale international investors. French insurance companies, international fashion houses and Chinese businessmen are all speculating on the areas wines and land, some of whose value has increased tenfold in the last decade alone. Saporta investigates in detail the 2012 classification of the wines of Saint-Émilion, the most prestigious appellation of Bordeauxs right bank, which has come into disrepute, not least because the scoring system was changed in order to give points for a châteauxs lecture facilities and the size of its parking lot.
A shocking exposé of the French wine world, and a cri de coeur for the lost values of traditional winemaking, Vino Business pulls back the curtain on the secret domain of Bordeaux, a land ever more in thrall to the grapes of wealth.
About the Author
is an investigative journalist and documentary film-maker. In 2011, she published The Black Book of Agriculture
, which sold more than 60,000 copies in France alone. Vino Business
is her first book to be translated into English. She lives in Paris, France.