Following an agreement that China would recognise Bordeaux as a protected GI (geographical indication) in June 2015, last week Beijing agreed to protect the legal status of all still wine appellations in the region.

In a country where the counterfeiting of French wines is rife due to the glamorisation of Bordeaux and an obsession with fine wine as a commodity, the news is encouraging to say the least.

The decision was reached last week after years of talks between the two countries. The French agricultural ministry said that the agreement was an “historic advance” in the fight against fakes.


Be sure to buy French wine

The legal recognition of GIs is crucial in restricting rights to certain brand names for specific products. It is an area of law that we in the capitalist West take for granted due to our stringent trade regulations.

China appears increasingly willing to abide by these standards, however, and Bordeaux has become the first wine region to receive legal recognition for such a huge collection of names – almost 50 in total, including the lesser-known Bordeaux Haut Benauge and Graves de Vayres.

Nonetheless, it is a wonder this issue had not already been addressed – Bordeaux consumption is still sky-high in the country and both Champagne and Napa Valley have already been accorded protection. Other names offered protection include Cognac, Scotch Whiskey and Tequila.


A fine (wine) collaboration

Bordeaux’s wine bureau (CIVB) has been working closely with the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) since 2011 to achieve recognition for its prized produce. Some appellations, including St-Julien and St-Estèphe, are even separately registered as trademarks.

CIVB president Bernard Farges said, “I salute the hugely impressive work of the AQSIQ that has explored every detail of this complex subject. Both France and China are in full agreement on the importance of this geographic recognition.”

China remains the primary export destination for Bordeaux wines both in terms of value and volume, with over 63 million bottles heading there in 2015 to a total value of €277 million – over a quarter of all exports from the region.