Bordeaux is stepping up pressure on the Chinese government in an attempt to get it to recognise its Protected Designation of Origin status.
The move comes from a growing realisation that Bordeaux’s greatest threat is not from fake bottles of first growths but from ‘passing off large quantities of entry level wine as Bordeaux,’ chamber of commerce president Pierre Goguet told Decanter.com.
In Europe, Protected Designation of Origin is a legally-enforceable protection for certain foods and wines which can only be labelled with a region’s name if they come from that region.
There is currently no recognition of the scheme within China.
Speaking at the third re-signing of a cooperation agreement between Hong Kong and Bordeaux, first begun in 2008, the Bordeaux representatives admitted they face an uphill struggle.
‘The misuse of the Bordeaux name is a legal question concerned with registering trademarks,’ said Allan Sichel, president of the Union des Maisons de Bordeaux, the wine merchants’ union.
‘Implementation of the necessary legislation is possible within China, and we are making advances, but progress is slow.’
In Hong Kong, the total value of the wine market is HK$6.6bn, of which HK$4.4bn is represented by French wine.
HK$2.5bn of that is Bordeaux, or 57% of the French market.
Tight regulations, and an active anti-fraud department within the customs office, ensures that forged wines are not a concern in Hong Kong, but over the border in China fraud is reckoned to be widespread, with much of the adulteration taking place in Changli County in Hebei, which has been ironically dubbed the Bordeaux of China.
Goguet said, however, that China was stepping up its own production of quality wine.
‘As they start to ensure protection of their own quality wine areas, that should positively impact our own.’
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux