Champagne has become the latest drinks category to gain protected status in China – meaning that it will be illegal for copycat products to use the Champagne name on their labels.
The news has been welcomed by Champagne authority the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), which has counted China as its fastest growing market in recent years.
In 2003, fewer than 75,000 bottles of Champagne were shipped to China, but that figure had soared to just over 2m bottles in 2012, making the country Champagne’s fifth biggest market outside the European Union.
China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said ‘geographic mark protection’ had been granted to Champagne, with clear criteria drawn up for the wines’ origin, production and grape varieties.
The protection will stop domestic sparkling wine producers from using the Champagne name, as well as producers of other goods which borrow the term ‘Champagne’ in their names and marketing.
China has previously granted similar protected geographical status to Cognac, Scotch whisky and wines from the Napa Valley.
Wang Wei, director of the Champagne Bureau in Beijing, said: ‘This classification will allow the relevant authorities to taker more robust action against abuses of the Champagne name, which for the moment are relatively few, quickly detected and severely dealt with.’
Jean-Luc Barbier, CIVC director-general, paid tribute to the ‘excellent relations’ between France and China with regard to geographical protection.
Written by Richard Woodard