PARIS — France's Beaujolais king Georges Duboeuf, under investigation for mixing premium wine with a cheap grade, said the blend had been made in error but it never went on sale.
A company spokeswoman said police were investigating whether Duboeuf's firm, behind the launch of the Beaujolais Nouveau craze worldwide, had fraudulently passed off a lower quality blend as a premium wine to the public.
Duboeuf said in a statement Saturday that an employee who had since left the company had made an error but that production was halted before the wine went to market. "This wine was never bottled and was thus never offered for sale to consumers," the company said in a statement.
The wine under investigation, a top quality 2004 Beaujolais, accounted for 300,000 liters of Duboeuf's total annual production of about 25 million bottles, the spokeswoman said.
She added that the wine involved was not Beaujolais Nouveau, the most famous product of the region centered in Villefranche-sur-Saone in eastern France.
"My life's battle has always been for quality and confidence in the Beaujolais wine. This is why the human error which occurred within my company is unacceptable, even if it fortunately did not have any consequence for our consumers," Duboeuf said in the statement.
Confidence is crucial for France's beleaguered wine growers, pressured by overproduction, lower consumption at home and rising competition abroad.