Following an investigation that lasted over a year, French public prosecutor Francis Battut arraigned the accused before a three-person tribunal in Carcassonne, recommending prison sentences and heavy fines.
The 13 defendants include executives from two wineries and five co-operatives, as well as negociant Ducasse and conglomerate Sieur d'Arques
Only the latter denied the charges.
'The executives from Sieur d'Arques
maintain they were unaware the wine they were selling to their American client was not Pinot Noir, even though one of their own winemakers admitted it,' Battut
'I think they were mocking the court.'
Between 2006 and 2008, Sieur d'Arques
allegedly sold 135,000 hectolitres of vin de Pays d'Oc labelled Pinot Noir to E&J Gallo for €4m (£350m).
However the total production from those supplying the French distributors amounted to 15,000 hectolitres a year.
said the case proves the defendants were knowingly involved in cutting the Pinot Noir with much less costly Merlot and Syrah, delivering the equivalent of 16m bottles, or 460 oil tankers - and making a profit.
According to French newspaper La Dépêche, one of the accused said that had the suppliers 'been asked to put Yoplait on the label, they would have' in order to satisfy customer demand.
Battut has recommended fines and gaol terms approaching the maximum allowed: a year in prison and a fine of €40,000 (£35,000) for broker Claude Courset of Ducasse; €180,000 (£157,000) against Sieur d'Arques; and various fines and terms (some suspended) for the others.
'The economic consequences of this case could be critical,' said Battut