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France Targets China Wine Scammers

Posted by Laura Fitch on May 28, 2010 10:32 AM

As incomes rise, Chinese urbanites are developing a thirst for a vintage drop. While this means unlimited marketing potential for foreign wineries selling to China and growth opportunities for China-based wineries, the current lack of expertise in the drink of the gods means many businesses and consumers are easy pickings for scam artists.

The latest trick: a few rogue Chinese wine brokers have been selling wine futures for bottles of Bordeaux that will never be delivered.
"There’s a huge interest in the 2009 Bordeaux from China," as Sam Gleave, Hong Kong sales director for Bordeaux Index, tells AFP. "In an unregulated and uneducated market, there was always potential for rogue trading in en-primeur. Unfortunately, it seems as if that potential has been realised."

To educate consumers, Bordeaux's exhibition in the France Pavilion (above) at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai aims to enlighten and entice China's aspiring wine cognoscenti.
While Bordeaux has played down the effects of the scams, with Thomas Jullien of the Bordeaux Wine Council calling press reports of wine fraud in China “exaggerated,” the issue highlights why it is necessary to educate consumers in China when introducing a new brand or product.

The French pavilion at Shanghai's World Expo, which continues through October, offers continuous wine tastings throughout the day. Pavilion architect Jacques Ferrier even installed an interactive wall of wine bottles in the pavilion’s construction, with bottles slowly disappearing as each bottle is drunk.

All that effort, given the huge upside for the wine market in China, is definitely worth it.

Bordeaux’s sales of wine to China doubled to 20 million bottles from 2008 to 2009. Judging by the willingness of consumers to buy into Bordeaux futures, that interest will only rise.

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