Planet China

Into the red

It puts a whole new spin on drunken sailors. According to the Shanghai Daily a ship anchored off the China coast has been converted into a factory with the sole purpose of producing fake Chateau Lafite wine. The claim was first made on the Sina Weibo blog of Liu Zhihui, a businessman who said he’d met an agent for the counterfeit Bordeaux.

The trick is to buy used Lafite bottles and fill them with a blend of cheaper wines. The fake Lafites can still sell in Chinese restaurants for as much as Rmb50,000 (US$7,862) a bottle. “Most Chinese wine consumers cannot tell the difference between table wine priced at Rmb200 and a Bordeaux first growth, not to mention the authenticity of Chateau Lafite,” wine expert Grace Zheng told the newspaper.

It has long been rumoured that large quantities of fake Lafite are circulating in China. That’s because the vineyard’s annual quota for the country is 50,000 bottles (out of a total production of 20,000 cases). But on the ground in China, the numbers don’t seem to add up. Zhejiang province is said to be getting through 300,000 bottles a year alone and CCTV has also reported that a single hotel in the southern city of Dongguan thinks it gets through 40,000 bottles annually.


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