Menu merchant accused of selling 'counterfeit' fine wine

Misrepresented Château Lafite Rothschild has been discovered being sold on Chinese e-commerce site, says a news report.

The revelation followed comments by consumers to a website called Wine Fancier saying that 'look-alike' 2009 Lafite was being sold on the online marketplace, The Drinks Business reports.

According to the online auction listing, the wine was described as a first growth wine from the Bordeaux region in France, which are considered the top ranked wines, of which Château Lafite Rothschild is considered one of the best.

However, there were discrepancies with the label, which was significantly different from genuine Château Lafite Rothschild. According to the description, the wine should have been labelled as a Pauillac first growth, reflecting the most prestigious wine-growing district of Médoc in the Bordeaux region and where Château Lafite Rothschild is produced. But the wine was labelled 'Chapelle Lafils' with Vin de Pays Bordeaux also appearing on the label, which is a 'country wine' classification of lower quality.

The seller was a Zhejiang-based wine company established in 2015, engaged in the online auction of selling international, domestic and local brands as well as rare wine and "committed to preferential prices".

A genuine bottle of 2009 Lafite can fetch around $1,159, according to The listing on had a starting bid of $737 for six bottles.

In a statement sent to, said: "We identified a third party merchant selling wine with a Chinese name similar to another brand and confirmed that this could easily be confusing to consumers. As a result, we immediately removed the product from the site before any had reached customers."

The Chinese e-commerce site has always insisted it takes a zero tolerance approach to counterfeits, and has publicly criticised rival Alibaba for its track record on brand protection.In this instance, it claims that "this was in fact an issue related to trademarks, but was incorrectly portrayed as a counterfeit issue. The names of the two wine were different, but confusing, which is why we immediately removed them."

Fake wine in China is a booming industry based on growing demand, with estimates suggesting that 70 per cent of the wine in the country is counterfeit, affecting both high-end and cheaper branded wines, with Château Lafite Rothschild one of the most popular brands to fake. By some accounts, there have been more bottles of fake Lafite 1982 sold than the number of genuine bottles produced in France.

Most of the fake wine appears to be produced and consumed in China, with reports of unsanitary production sites including toilets, pigsties and a hospital morgue. But government officials believe many counterfeit operations take place on boats moored in international waters.

Most counterfeit activity in China involves either the production of look-alikes of inferior wine with fake labels or the refilling of genuine bottles.

In 2012, Chinese police arrested six people and seized more than 4000 bottles of fake Château Lafite Rothschild. Bottles had been re-labelled and were being sold for 7,000 yuan ($1,000).

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