Awards and citations:


1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for investdrinks.org

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award




Thursday, 27 July 2017

Marc Sibard (Caves Augé, Paris) convicted of sexual harassment



Last week my Tuesday post on Les 5 du Vin covered the 'Affaire Marc Sibard'. Sibard has been the manager for many years of Caves Augé, one of the most famous Parisian wine merchants as well as being a wine buyer for Lavinia, which owns Caves Augé.

On July 6th 2017 he was found guilty on a number of charges of sexual assault on female employees at Caves Augé. 


My post on Les 5 du Vin: 

Marc Sibard condemned – some reflections


Marc Sibard condemned – some reflections




RvF article
Revue du Vin de France: sympathetic interview with Marc Sibard 2.5.17

On Sunday (16th July) Michel Smith posted here about the silence that has generally surrounded the guilty verdict against Marc Sibard for moral and sexual harassment. Running the famous Caves Augé in Paris for many years Sibard is a famous within the Parisian wine world.

The case was brought by three female ex-employees of the Caves Augé, who had been touched inappropriately by Sibard back in 2012. The lawyer for one of the women referred to un droit de cuissage – similar to droit de seigneur. Five years later on 6th July 2017 Sibard was found guilty at the Tribunal de Paris and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, suspended, ordered to undergo treatment for alcoholism for 24 months, pay legal fees amounting to 24,000 euros and a fine 5000 €. If Sibard offends again within five years he will go to prison. Details here and here. Caves Augé is part of the Lavinia group.

Read here and here the experience and thoughts of Emma Bentley, one of the plaintiffs. These are brave and moving posts. I know a little at first hand how stressful and time consuming a court case can be even if it does not come to court. This pales into insignificance when you make a sexual harassment complaint and follow it through to the trial.

Michel’s complaint on Sunday was that Sibard being found guilty of repeated sexual harassment/abuse has largely been greeted with silence and complete indifference by the wine world. Apparently a leading wine world figure being declared a sex offender is not news. Apart from a couple of articles on Vitisphere above and posts on blogs, in particular Vincent Pousson, and some on Facebook, Vincent again and Michel Smith. Otherwise nothing…… omerta? Thank goodness for social media!

A Google search on Sibard brings up the sympathetic interview/profile published by the Revue du Vin de France on 2nd May 2017 just over two months before Sibard was condemned as a sex offender. No mention of the impending case and no mention subsequent to the 6th July 2017 judgment. The article is on-line so it could easily be amended or removed.

Did RdF know about the impending trial? Did Sibard not think it was germane to disclose that he faced serious sexual charges? Or did both sides think that sexual harassment was so unimportant it didn’t merit a mention either then or now? **

« Nothing to see here, move on please. »

Actually it is clear that there is plenty that needs to be uncovered and seen. Read Michel Smith’s Facebook post from Sunday promoting his post on Les 5 du Vin, which provided a focus for a number of women to report on their experiences of harassment:

Irene

Une fois je me suis trouvée dans une situation où la seule issue a été la fuite et encore heureux je cours plus vite qu’un célèbre vigneron espagnol bourré…’ 


In the UK over the last few years we have seen a number of high profile trials of powerful and famous men, who got away, often for years, with sexual harassment and assault. Several are now in prison or have served prison sentences. The entertainer, Rolf Harris, was found guilty of a first set of charges, but was acquitted this year of four new charges when the jury couldn’t agree on a verdict.  Others include the publicist Max Clifford and radio personality Stuart Hall.

There are also multiple allegations involving abuse of young boys by certain UK football coaches. These offences/allegations date back to 1970s, 1980s and 1990s showing it can be very difficult for victims of sexual harassment and abuse to come forward especially if the abuser is in a position of power – fame, wealth or employer etc. The changes in attitude to these assaults following the exposure of the multiple sexual assaults by the late DJ Jimmy Saville and the scandals of the Catholic Church may well have encouraged some of the victims to come forward years – decades even – after the assaults took place. *

This is why breaking the silence is so important to make easier for victims to come forward and to change attitudes to assaults, so that not only will sexual harassment be reported but people will hopefully be empowered to challenge sexual harassment when it happens – often requiring considerable courage.

There is a long way to go. Amazingly Donald Trump is currently president of the United States and a recent visitor to Paris despite a history of multiple sexual harassment claims. Highlighted by his famous brag: I « can do anything » to women, including « just start kissing them … I don’t even wait » and « grab ’em by the pussy« .

Ironically Trump was propelled into power as 64% of non-college educated white women voted for him!

Across the Atlantic en marche backwards……..

* Some of these cases involved minors, there is no suggestion that this was the case in the judgment against Marc Sibard.

Update 18.00 BST 18.7.2017

RvF no appeal
** This afternoon following the news that Marc Sibard would not be appealing against the judgment of 6th July 2017, the Revue du Vin de France has published a news story on the sentence imposed upon Marc Sibard. RvF article is here.






Yesterday (26th July) Vincent Pousson posted an shocking interview with Pauline X, an employee of Caves Augé who had been harassed and abused by Sibard. Pauline was one of those who successfully brought the case against Sibard. Sibard's humiliating treatment of Pauline included locking her in his Caves Augé office along with a false claim that she was his mistress. 

Eventually she left the Caves Augé in March 2013 having had to sign a non-disclosure with Lavinia, which rather suggests that Lavinia wished to cover up Sibard's harassment of his female employees. 

•••
 
I have to wonder how widespread sexual harassment is in the wine world. Is Sibard an exceptional case. Do young female wine students face abuse and harassment when they go on work experience in wineries around the world? I hope not but I just don't know.
 
 








Wednesday, 26 July 2017

80 ans – bon anniversaire Bourgueil ! + Chinon and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil


 
The eastern limit of the appellation at Saint-Patrice 


Appellation Bourgueil is celebrating its 80th birthday today. A little prematurely it has to be said as the appellation didn't come officially into existence until 31st July 1937. This is the same date as AC Chinon and AC Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, who will also be celebrating their 80th anniversaries.  

As the vendange is likely to be early this year the Bourgueil producers are celebrating a few days earlier, so that they can head off on their holidays and be back in time to pick.... 


 Fête des Vins de Bourgueil in Tours 


 Maison des Vins de Bourgueil


Chinon
Appellation also created on 31st July 1937

Chinon town and château

Statue of Rabelais beside the Vienne
the patron saint of Chinon 

In the Caves Painctes, Chinon: 
a home of
Syndicat des Vins et la confrérie des Entonneurs Rablaisiens.


Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil 
Appellation also created on 31st July 1937.  

Largish format bottle by church in centre 
of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil

Some of the vineyards of Saint-Nicolas
- showing the gravel leading to the clay limestone 
slopes in the distance  



Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Big wine + flat screen TVs seizure – Kent Police raid warehouses in Horsmonden and Brenchley


Report from Kent Police on an alleged large distribution fraud – wine and flat screen TVs:
   
Policing news

Goods recovered in fraud investigation fill four lorries

Items including tens of thousands of bottles of wine and the latest flat screen televisions have been seized by Kent Police following search warrants at warehouses in Horsmonden and Brenchley.

Officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit have also recovered commodities including shipments of marble tiles and even air conditioning units, as part of an investigation into an alleged conspiracy to defraud a number of foreign businesses.

Fraudulent orders
It is reported that fraudulent orders have been made to at least 20 companies, based outside of the UK.
 

Victims have complained although goods have been dispatched no payments have been received.

On Thursday 20 July 2017 search warrants were executed by Kent Police at two locations; a warehouse in Goudhurst Road, Horsmonden and a second premises in Tibbs Court Lane, Brenchley

Arrest
In total police have seized 217 pallets of goods, filling four HGV lorries. A process to identify items recovered from these storage areas is ongoing.
 

A 26-year-old man from Horsmonden has been arrested in connection with the investigation and has been bailed, pending further enquiries, until 17 August.

Significant scale

Detective Inspector Annie Clayton said:  ‘We have received multiple complaints from victims who have alleged they have lost goods due to fraud and that these goods were delivered to storage facilities in west Kent; which have now been searched. 

‘This is a complex investigation, which is being assisted by our partners at Interpol and the Metropolitan Police and which has so far resulted in the recovery of vast amounts of property we believe has been obtained by fraudulent means. The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate is committed to tackling those who facilitate organised crime in Kent and we are investigating allegations, which are on a very significant scale.’