Canarian bodega in imported wine scandal

Update 13 November: Tenerife president Carlos Alonso announced yesterday a restructuring in the Cabildo’s cabinet whereby Jesús Morales will move into the department of Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca, and current incumbent José Joaquín Bethencourt will move to Aguas. President Alonso said that the reshuffle was intended to “give a new impulse to agriculture to tackle the challenges of the sector”. No doubt the recent wine scandal (below) will have played its part in the decision too, and it seems clear that the Cabildo hopes a new broom will sweep somewhat more cleanly, and that a fresh face will give Tenerife wines a boost after its recent scandal. Alonso said that Bethencourt had been in post for the last twelve years and had done a marvellous job, but looking forward, Morales was the right person for the challenges ahead.

Original post 4 October: Everyone is all too familiar with stories of underhand dealing in public institutions, but one is nicely bubbling away in an unexpected location, namely Bodegas Insulares de Tenerife, the home of Viña Norte in La Laguna, which is now under investigation by the Cabildo-run Instituto Canario de Calidad Agroalimentaria (ICCA: Canarian Institute of Food Quality). It seems that as the wine has become more popular, demand has outrstripped supply, and the gap has been filled by surreptitious imports of wine from La Mancha on the mainland – wine then supplied to commercial outlets as being Canarian denomination of origin.

Cabildo minister of Agricultura, Ganadería y Pesca, José Joaquín Bethencourt, has said that he, and the Canarian government, has an invoice showing that Bodegas Insulares de Tenerife bought some 27,000 litres of wine in bulk from Ciudad Real in La Mancha. This, however, is not all, because it is alleged that there are at least three other such purchases dating back to 2012 amounting to some €70,000.

Bodegas Insulares de Tenerife is the most significant producer of quality Canarian wine in the archipelago, and whether it will be found to have committed a legally defined “fraud” or not, will surely be found at least to have undermined the industry which, recently, has become an increasingly important motor in the Canarian economy. The consejero delegado de Bodegas Insulares, José Luis Savoie has resigned. Whether more heads will roll, or whether Savoie’s symbolic fall on his sword will be sufficient, only time will tell – as it will tell if there is any damage to the Canarian wine industry.

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