All that glitters is NOT gold…

Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM

All rights reserved

The intrepid and indomitable Travelling Gourmet gives you the Expose on something insiders have know for a long, long time but were AFRAID to tell because it is…

MANIFESTLY politically incorrect. What the HELL! Shoot straight and speak the Truth…for the Truth will set you free!

A bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild sold in a Chinese restaurant for 50,000 yuan (US$7,862)…was most probably FAKE wine…made in the world’s factory that is the People’s Republic of China with a communist government. It cost no more than 30 Yuan. Highly reliable sources in the world of wine and business have told me this for a long, long time. Recently, at a special Lunch in my the residence of my friend, HE The German Ambassador, Joel Payne, well known American Wine writer based in Germany told me openly, “There are more bottles of Chateau Lafite sold and offered for sale in CHina (PRC) than were ever produced by the winery!!! My friend, when you are in China, do not buy Chateau Lafite, especially of that year’s vintage…” Joel chuckled and laughed uproariously, (he had had quite a bit of very excellent German VDP wine, you see) “…but you know that already, mein guter Freund!” I drank to that! 🙂

Chateau Lafite often not what it seems...[File photo]

Like a good spy movie, nothing is ever quite what it seems…Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1993…OR IS IT???

Liu Zhihui, vice chairman of the realty subcommittee of Asia-Pacific Urban Development Association, claimed on his microblog, that he was told an agent was producing counterfeit Lafite wine in a secret wine factory on a cargo ship through blending low quality French wine in fake Lafite bottles and selling it to various outlets in China.

The faking of Lafite wine has been known in the industry for a long  time. Then why no brouhaha??? Does commercial integrity take a back seat to political correctness? Are respectable wine makers and negociants AFRAID of evil criminal and wine forgers??? Oh! la! la! Sacre Bleu et mon Dieu! C’est terrible, n’est pas! tell the Truth, expose them investigate them, arrest them, execute them (yes, they have capital punishment in the PRC-China)…then perhaps we may see a reduction in this kind of perfidy!

“I estimate that 70 percent of the so-called Chateau Lafite Rothschild sold in China’s mainland is fake since the sales volume greatly outstrips the import volume,” said wine expert, Frankie Zhao, who has worked in Chinese wine industry for over 10 years. In this case, statistics DO NOT lie.

According to the Lafite website, the vineyard’s annual wine production is around 20,000 cases.

China’s annual quota of Lafite wine from France is no more than 50,000 bottles, according to highly reliable top secret sources.

People always ask me, “How do you know these things???”

The answer is: “Wir haben unsere Wegen…” It means in German, “We have our ways…”

However, the annual Lafite consumption of one five-star hotel in Dongguan in south Guangdong Province is 40,000 bottles, according to a CCTV report earlier this year.

Zhejiang Province in east China is said to be consuming 300,000 bottles of Lafite a year.

Just like Chinese counterfeiters making fake Louis Vuitton products in various grades of quality, fake Lafite made in China is generally classified into three different quality levels, from low to high, and sold at different prices.

“The top refers to those bottles with a certain portion of real Chateau Lafite Rothschild,” said Yang Wei, purchase director of G. Brand International Trading, Shanghai.

“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. Those bottles are now in short supply,” Yang said.

The middle, Zhao said, refers to cheap French wine sold in bottles labeled “Prince Lafite” or “Lafite Dynasty” in French and “Chateau Lafite Rothschild” in Chinese.

“Those, strictly speaking, are not fake wine since the wine producer takes advantage of the loopholes in the law,” Zhao said.

Yang added: “The worst are those using cheap Chinese wine, mainly from Yantai in eastern Shandong Province, and which is poured into fake bottles with fake labels. These wines are quite popular in second and third tier cities in China and sold at a very cheap price.”

Chateau Lafite Rothschild is considered a must-have at swanky dinner parties in China in order to impress guests. For the newly wealthy, it’s also a luxury drink that they believe will demonstrate their taste and membership of a global elite.

However, many of those willing to pay up to 50,000 yuan for a bottle know little about wine and that leads to the prevalence of fake wine.

“Most Chinese wine consumers cannot tell the difference between a table wine priced at 200 yuan and a Bordeaux first growth, not to mention the authenticity of Chateau Lafite,” said wine expert Grace Zheng.

November 9, 2012: In a raid on a house Chinese Police found 10,000 bottles of fake Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) wines. The house had been under visual surveillance for some time preceding the raid. 

china, chinese wine, chinese fake wine, fake wine,

The huge cache of bottles, strongly believed to be forgeries, was found in an empty house in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province that had been under surveillance by the local law enforcement agencies, and was known about by the DBR lawyers.

Contrary to reports in the Chinese media, there were no bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild itself – but large quantities of the company’s Domaine Baron Rothschild Collection brands, which include Légends, Saga, and Réserve Spéciale.

Owner of the house, a Mr Zou,  denied any involvement under Police interrogation. His lame explanation was that last month he found his house, which had stood vacant for nine years, filled with wine bottles. The house was reportedly guarded by five large dogs, including two big Tibetan mastiffs!

Christophe Salin, the managing director of DBR (Lafite) told, ‘We are aware of it and our lawyers in China are working with the Chinese fraud office.’

It is believed that forgers are now less willing to fake high-cost wines such as Lafite Rothschild, as the punishment for forgery in China is linked to the value of the goods, and death sentences have recently been handed down to forgers of the most expensive products.

Christophe Salin, Chateau Lafite Rothschild’s managing director, said earlier this year that it would take legal action against fake wine.

“All that glitters is not gold-

Often have you heard that told…”

Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 7 by William Shakespeare

Zum Wohl! 🙂

About thetravellinggourmet

As a renowned Travel, Food & Wine Writer he has travelled the world in a keen & indomitable pursuit of exotic delicacies & fine wines. His articles have been published in over 20 prestigious publications, both local & international. Dr. Lim has toured and trained in Wine Evaluation & Oenology in most of the world's top wine producing areas from France to Australia. The Travelling Gourmet says, "Gastronomy has no frontier. These are the gastronomic voyages of The Travelling Gourmet. My unending mission. To explore strange new cuisines, to seek out new wines and new culinary experiences, to boldly go where no gourmet has gone before...." Have pen, will travel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any other information storage & retrieval system, without permission from Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet and/or MSN. Material may be works of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents may be true but may also be products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance whatsoever to actual person or persons, either dead or living, events, or locales may be entirely and purely coincidental and unintentional. No part of this website may be used to villify others or for criminal purposes. Interests: Travel, Food, Wines, Cooking, Wine Appreciation, Parachuting, Languages, Music, Reading, Swimming, Hunting, Ballet, Fencing, Archery, Anthropology and more... The Travelling Gourmet is a copyrighted trademark. All rights and photos reserved. No part may be reproduced without permission.
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