Chinese conglomerate COFCO has confirmed that it intends to control the supply chain of its Bordeaux wines, in a bid to protect Chinese consumers from wine fraud.
Speaking at the signing ceremony of the purchase of Chateau Viaud in Bordeaux, COFCO vice chairman Chi Jingtao said that the Chinese government was particularly interested in assuring products sold in China were authentic and unadulterated.
‘We have a strategy for constructing a complete chain from production to consumption to guard against forgeries and to reassure our clients. Being involved from the vineyard upwards in Bordeaux helps to strengthen this commitment, and investing in vineyards internationally is part of the fight against fraud.’
The Viaud ceremony was held on Wednesday 16 February at La Winery, a wine tourism complex owned by Philippe Raoux, the former owner of Chateau Viaud and was attended by both Jingtao and Wu Fei, head of COFCO Wines & Spirits branch.
Raoux will now partner with COFCO for both distribution of Bordeaux wines, and the development of a new Bordeaux brand to be aimed at the Chinese market.
The purchase price of Chateau Viaud, in Lalande-de-Pomerol, was confirmed as €10 million.
A leading Bordeaux negociant, who did not wished to be named, told Decanter.com, ‘A new brand could potentially take a lot of the low-priced Bordeaux wines off the market, which may be a good thing for the region, but it will change the distribution structure, as the Chinese are likely to bypass the existing system of brokers and merchants, and use their chateau as a means to buy grapes directly from small producers.’
In September 2010, COFCO also purchased Vina Bisquertt – one of the largest vineyard entities in Chile – for US$18 million.
An upmarket branded wine for the Chinese market is currently in production.
Jingtao also confirmed at the ceremony that the group is aggressively expanding its vineyard ownership overseas, actively looking at buying vineyards in Italy, Australia, the United States and South Africa, as well as looking to enhance the reputation of its Great Wall wine brand in overseas markets.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux