Chateau Lafite Rothschild has said all bottles from the 2009 vintage will use Prooftag anti-fraud seals.
Prooftag is a capsule seal with a 13-numbered code authenticating individual bottles.
Carruades de Lafite, the property’s second wine, will use the same system from the 2010 vintage, as will any earlier vintages coming direct from the chateau.
As part of the same anti-fraud strategy, the chateau is also engaging more directly with Chinese consumers, and has opened up an account on Weibo, known as the Chinese twitter.
The problem of fraud is especially acute in China, where the government is increasingly active in fighting forgeries, for both public health and tax reasons.
Chinese consumers have a one in two chance of buying a fake bottle of Lafite, James de Roany, advisor to the French government on wine and spirit exports, said recently.
Prooftag was accredited by the Chinese authorities 18 months ago, and is reportedly being used by some government agencies for the delivery of confidential documents.
Prooftag marketing director Franck Bourrières told Decanter.com, ‘No one knows the exact size of the problem with counterfeit wine. But we do know that the problem exists. This is a welcome signal from Lafite that they are working with merchants and final consumers to combat it.’
Of the Bordeaux ‘First Growths’, Chateau Ausone, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour all use the system. Other key properties include Palmer and Smith Haut Lafitte, Chateau Montelena in California, Domaine de Comte Lafon and Domaine Ponsot in Burgundy and in the Rhone.
de Roany said the difficulty lay in finding a system which works. Cognac became the first international product to become an officially-recognised AOC in China in 2010, and has put a careful system of bottle-identification in place.
But, he said, forgers now use the system – so a ‘real’ bottle, could contain fake cognac.
‘An infallible system doesn’t exist – but the best ones use geo-localisation, are able to trace every single bottle, and are able to integrate the system with a smartphone, because realistically that is how customers use it.’
See this month’s Bordeaux 2012 guide (free with Decanter’s July issue) which contains a special report on counterfeit wines.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux