China Guarantees the Real Deal for Champagne Socialites

Brand China and stitch perfect designer rip offs go hand in hand- but with the Chinese agreement to  offer full labelling protection to the French region of Champagne, it seems at least one manufacturer is safe from the forgers. 

The move is seen by trade groups as a huge boost for the sparkling wine in the booming East Asian marketplace. Even America refuses to sign on to the agreement, which limits the labeling of Champagne to sparkling wines produced exclusively in the French region of the same name.

China’s emerging middle classes are embracing the beverage on an unprecedented scale, with sales leaping from 50,000 in 2001 to one million in 2010 and two million in 2012, making China the fastest growing champagne market outside of the EU. Athough the bulk of consumers still prefer beer and domestic spirit baiju, millions are beginning to cultivate a taste for fine wine.  Apocryphal may abound of Chinese millionaires quaffing hugely expensive wines mixed together with cola, but this image  of Chinese wine drinkers as uneducated consumers is rapidly shifting.

Apocryphal may abound of Chinese millionaires quaffing hugely expensive wines mixed together with cola, but this image  of Chinese wine drinkers as uneducated consumers is rapidly shifting

Import duties remain hefty however, with genuine bottles starting at around £45 at their cheapest, making close replicas at much lower prices a much more attractive proposition. As sales shot up, China’s huge reproduction industry went into overdrive,  applying the upmarket branding to everything from sickly sweet bubbly wine to candles and dog toys, Le Comite Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC) said. With this new legislation in place, the organisation will be more empowered to crack down on mislabeled products.

CIVC spokesman Thibaut Le Mailloux welcomed the move, saying that as  “one of the biggest future markets for champagne”, China had “achieved an optimal level of protection.”

Champagne joins cognac, Scotch whiskey and Napa Valley wine as one of the few protected alcoholic drinks in China, with branding contingent on factors such as  grape varieties to be used, locations in France where grapes have to be grown, where the wine should be made and the method of protection, among others. The deal may however come as somewhat of  blow to the Moet Hennesey group, which signed a deal in 2011 to grow domestic Champagne type wine on the Mongolian border, one of China’s poorest farming regions.

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