Top 10 news of 2018 in China’s wine market

4. Bordeaux’s landmark case win in China

If Penfolds’ constant legal actions against counterfeiters are setting an encouraging example for fellow producers looking to protect their own intellectual property rights, the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB or Bordeaux Wine Council)’s landmark win last year against fraudsters who exploit Bordeaux trademarks is another welcome sign.

The chief counterfeiting operation, according to Thomas Jullien, the Bordeaux Wine Council’s representative in China, is based in the country’s main wine producing region in Shandong peninsula’s Penglai, and has been producing fake wines bearing the labels of Bordeaux and Médoc, two Geographically Indicated (GI) wine regions that the trade body has obtained trademark rights within China.

According to Jullien, the case is significant in the sense that Shandong remains China’s biggest wine production base by volume and is itself home to China’s two leading wineries – GreatWall winery and Changyu Pioneers – as well as foreign ventures such as Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)’s Chinese wine project, and which is trying to establish its reputation as a serious domestic wine producing region.

“For us, it’s sending a strong signal, [that] in that area, the local authorities are serious about enforcement. For us, it’s important, Penglai is an area that has ambition for wine production as well. In order to protect the Penglai name, they have to make sure they don’t have bad actors in that area,” Jullien said.

The win came shortly on the heels of the council’s other legal victory in Shanghai in December 2017, the de facto wine capital within mainland China, where three counterfeiters were convicted and fined for a combined total of more than RMB 1 million (US$145,000), the first criminal conviction on a collective GI.

“This is the first case. It is the first appellation case in China so it sets a precedent,” Jullien exclaimed on the magnitude of the win.

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