The 105th China Food and Drinks Fair Autumn edition kicked off in Tianjin on October 15 (picture credit: Xinhua)
China Wine

‘Disneyland of fakes’ at China Food & Drinks Fair in Tianjin

Derided by trade professionals as "Disneyland of fakes", the scale of knockoffs seen at this year's Autumn edition of China Food & Drinks Fair in Tianjin is staggering. We have rounded up some of the worst offenders here from fake DRC to counterfeit Petrus.

Despite Chinese authorities’ intensified crackdown on counterfeit wines, there are unfortunately plenty of fakes, lookalikes and imitations seen at this year’s Autumn edition of China Food & Drinks Fair in Tianjin this week.

The fair is part of China’s biggest wine and spirits fair, China Food & Drinks Fair (CFDF), which is hosted twice a year, one in Spring in southwestern China’s Chengdu, and the Autumn fair at another designated city.

Although with travel restrictions, we are not able to attend the fair, sources at the fair who requested anonymity for fear of retribution have shared with us some of the worst offenders of counterfeit wines spotted at the week-long trade show from October 15 to 19, including knock-offs of the revered Domaine de Romanee Conti, Bordeaux first growth Chateau Lafite Rothschild, French wine group Castel and among others.

The 105th China Food and Drinks Fair Autumn edition kicked off in Tianjin on October 15 (picture credit: Xinhua)
The 105th China Food & Drinks Fair Autumn edition kicked off in Tianjin on October 15 (picture credit: Xinhua)

Derided by trade professionals as “Disneyland of fakes”, the scale of the fakes as seen at the trade fair is sizable, and judging by the look of it, the makers of the counterfeits including Satusri (法国塞图斯酒庄) , France Boyani Winery (法国波雅妮酒庄) and even known and repeat offenders such as Shanghai Feidisi Trading Company (上海菲荻斯贸易有限公司) managed to exhibit at the show in broad daylight with impunity.

What’s also clear is that the fakes on display lacked the sophistication of the real wines in terms of design, label and wine knowledge accuracy. They are a far cry from the authentic bottles and it appears as though they decided to forgo the convincing facsimiles of actual products whatsoever. Putting Bordeaux wines in Chateauneuf du pape bottles or confusing Languedoc as a wine producing region in Pugnac in Bordeaux’s Gironde are just some examples.

What’s slightly reassuring is that there are organizations and authorities on the ground inspecting fake wines at the wine fair. GS1 China, the Chinese division of the non-profit organization that sets standards for global commerce and product traceability, is at the fair diligently tracking barcodes of the alleged fakes.

“We are working with local markets and authorities to inspect wines at the fair”, says William Yang from GS1 China when interviewed by Vino Joy News. They are, as an organization that standardizes barcodes and global commerce, however face limitations as well to verify wine’s authenticity, he admits.

“For us we can’t tell a wine’s authenticity by just looking at it or examining the label design, as we are checking from the perspective of barcode. Sometimes, even when a wine is fake, its barcode is still correct.”

The reason as he explains is that fake wines are often produced by companies that have capacity to import and bottle wines. This means they can import bulk wines from a country of origin and obtain a legitimate barcode from the source company and then slap it onto their fraudulent products, passing them off as legitimate.  

With that in mind, here we have rounded up some of the more brazen fakes spotted at the fair from DRC knock-off Pompaddy Conti to fake Petrus.

Scroll down the pages below to view them all.

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