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New system for Chinese names of Bordeaux chateaux

A new system which offers a phonetic translation of the top chateaux names has been set up by Singaporean journalist Ch’ng Poh Tiong.

The renowned wine writer, publisher of the Chinese Bordeaux Guide and Decanter columnist, has developed the system to safeguard prestigious Bordeaux wines from fraud and misuse of their names in Asia.

The system will offer a certified phonetic translation of the 61 Crus Classes, as well as other members of the Union des Grands Crus such as Petrus, Cheval Blanc and Ausone, in conjunction with the chateaux themselves.

Wherever possible these will also be registered as trademarks – although some have already been registered by ‘opportunistic individuals’ in China, Poh Tiong said.

He announced the move at a dinner at Chateau Brane Cantenac in Margaux earlier this week to a group of Beijing sommeliers and Bordeaux property owners.

‘There are people in China who want to cash in on these names. Uncertainty about the official translations makes it very hard to track authenticity of bottles.’

Chateaux names can be translated either using the phonetic sound or from images on the label (Cheval Blanc, for example, is often translated using the image of a white horse).

Currently, chateaux may be translated in a different way in different parts of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore or Macau, and four or five versions may be in circulation at any one time.

The plan is expected to be in place from next year. The officially sanctioned names can then be used by importers, store owners and hotels to ensure the bottles they are distributing are correct.

Olivier Bernard, owner of Domaine de Chevalier, told decanter.com, ‘Over the past few years we have realised there is a problem, but it is a difficult area as different importers may legally use different names. Before choosing the definitive one, we have to be careful not to upset our current network.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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