By Benjamin Cost
The latest case in China’s neverending piracy story involves wine bootleggers vending locally-refined (or in this case, maybe “unrefined”) wine under the imported Château Lafite Rothschild labels.
In a scheme that would even give the Untouchables a headache, bottles are reportedly rescued from the dumpster, dusted off, and loaded with a low-rent French wine blend at a wine laboratory housed in a cargo ship.
The purchase director of G. Brand International Trading in Shanghai spills the beans on the illicit practice:
“Counterfeiters blend the real Lafite wine they imported from France with other middle-range French wine and pour them into original Lafite bottles recycled from restaurant trash at a price of 2,000 to 3,000 yuan each.”
And that’s for the “cheap” knockoffs. Selective vintages are said to fetch up to 35,000RMB a bottle!
To the dismay of China’s rapidly growing wine-tippling sector, this is far from the first time an illicit concoction has been pawned off as a foreign vintage. A new line of moonshined Bordeaux has recently cropped up, whose ingredients include sugar water, coloring additives, and artificial flavor, which we presume was then collectively aged to “imperfection”.
And the practice is hardly the province of the mainland alone, as police recently recalled an exorbitant amount of duplicate Australian wine from stores in the Taiwanese city of Tainan.
Luckily, there has been a recent crackdown on this new breed of wine crimes as China’s ports have stepped up their screening measures:
It is understood that now all legitimate wines have to get approved by the third party-China Inspection and Authentication Group, the Ningbo Ltd. By now big 20 importers are required to have their approved wines tagged with anti-counterfeit labels.
But according to Wen An, founder of the Beijing-based wine tasting course Easescent, the customers also have a part to play in ensuring that pirated wine is in fact, recognized as pirated wine:
“When the Chinese will be able to distinguish between good and bad wine, they will no longer choose counterfeit products.”
No, honey, we don’t have a drinking problem. We’re just EDUCATING ourshelves on texture and AROMA, et shetera. And doing our part to increashe the level of knowledge and SOPHISTICASHUN towards wine in China. One case at a time.
Now be a dear and get me some Sprite to go with this icky Cabernet. GANBEI!