prosecutors said on Friday a gang that had allegedly produced hundreds of thousands of bottle of fake Bordeaux wine was behind a fake gang that had been involved in an elaborate counterfeiting operation.
Officers investigating drug dealing in the southwestern French region discovered printing machinery used to create the labels for the bottles last September, sparking a wider criminal investigation.
It resulted in the arrest of around 20 people on Monday during an operation in seven different areas of France, with three of them charged with money laundering, counterfeiting and organised fraud.
A winemaker and broker in the Medoc region near Bordeaux, who was buying low-grade wine from other areas including Spain, bottling it up as more expensive local produce, a statement from Bordeaux prosecutors' office said.
The statement said that major orders had been placed for wine destined for supermarkets and foreign countries.
It said that bottling operations were being run at night to avoid detection.
If the allegations are proven, we hope that the culprits will be punished because these practices undermine the image of Bordeaux wines and those who work properly and respect the rules, the local wine industry body told AFP.
French winemakers, customs and police are always on the lookout for cheats who pass off budget plonk as top vintages.
In 2016 police arrested a Bordeaux vintner who was blending poor-quality wine with high-end Saint-Emilions, Lalande-de- Pomerols and Listrac-Medocs to sell to major supermarkets under prestigious labels.
The owner of several domains, Francois-Marie Marret, was handed a prison sentence and a fine of eight million euros after being found bringing in cheap wine at night.
In 2010, 12 French winemakers and dealers were convicted of selling millions of bottles of fake Pinot Noir to the US firm E&J Gallo.
In 2006, legendary Beaujolais winemaker Georges Duboeuf was fined more than 30,000 euros for blending grapes from different vineyards to disguise the poor quality of certain prized vintages.