Chinese entrepreneurs are counterfeiting Australian wine, including knock-offs of one of our best-known brands, Penfolds, and promoting the fakes as quality wines in shops and trade fairs throughout the country.Unfortunately for Penfolds, their success has come at a cost
Perhaps quality wine is still a status thing in China, like buying and drinking expensive cognac (XO not VSOP). Until more recently, people in China didn't really appreciate wine, particularly red wine as many were mixing it with lemonade. If this is the case, then most people won't even know that they are drinking an inferior product. Perhaps one of the solutions, apart from marketing, is to educate people's palate and appreciation of fine wine.
Perhaps the highest-profile casualty so far has been Penfolds, maker of Grange. Wines labelled "Benfolds" and claiming to be Australian were seen at a trade fair in China earlier this year.
"I've seen a 'Penfolds 888' [8 is a lucky number in China] and even 'Benfolds' with the same cursive 'P' but instead it's a 'B'," said Matt Bahen, deputy general manager of Australian-owned wine distributor, The Wine Republic, in north China.
See also my earlier item on the wine substitution scandal in the United States - faux pinot noir.