Testing following a wine fault


After noticing that the wine had a plasticky taste and smell, the winemaker suspected a problem with the recently installed piping and tangential flow filters. Indeed, these connecting pipes play an essential role, as the walls of the pipes remove any undesired molecules.  

The winemaker’s loss adjuster therefore incriminated the various service providers responsible for the supply, installation, connection, and first use of the vats. 

How Stelliant proceeded

Appointed by the insurer of one of the subcontractors, a wine industry loss adjuster from Stelliant quickly arrived on-site. Join analyses were carried out in agreement with the various parties represented there. 

Although the winemaker was demanding that the wine stored in their 18 vats be destroyed and that the pipes be replaced, it was first necessary to determine whether the wine, while certainly faulty, was unadulterated and merchantable.  

A wine expert and specialist wine analysis lab provided an answer to these questions, while simultaneously reducing the value of the claim. Indeed, the product was downgraded from a “vin de garde” (cellaring wine) classification, to a “vin de pays” (country wine). 

While loss adjustment was being carried out, a body of evidence was forming that narrowed the cause of the fault down to the composition of the pipes themselves. Upon investigation, it even turned out that the connectors supplied by the subcontractor did not comply with current European food regulations. 

More in-depth research was then conducted in a laboratory to find a direct connection between the molecules released by the piping and the fault in question. However, analysis of the wine revealed that the pollutants found did not come from plastic. As no causal link with the fault could be proven, the service provider was exonerated of any liability. 

The wine expert then put forward other hypotheses to the winemaker. For example, the harmonisation and neutralisation of the wine, like maintenance of the vats, are actions that can accidentally introduce chemical molecules into the wine. 

When dealing with winemaking incidents, it is essential to enlist specialists with the appropriate skills, from winemaking equipment to tasting, and including wine analysis. Stelliant can count on a galaxy of loss adjusters and assessors with the skills to work on all kinds of claims, including in winemaking-adjacent industries: bottling, labelling, corks, etc. 

In 2019, France produced 17% of the world’s wine, with exports worth more than €13bn. French wines and spirits are the second biggest contributors to France’s balance of trade, second only to aerospace and ahead of cosmetics. Wine is also the top contributor to the balance of trade for the agri-food industry. Rapid growth that has brought with it a major increase in incidents in the sector. This is why Stelliant needs to be able to call on winemaking experts who are perfectly familiar with the industry’s particularities.