Everyone knows China is now big on wine. Those already in the wine industry probably know that China is particularly big on fake wine. Have you ever wondered where those fake wine LABELS come from? They are definitely not from claimed country of origin. I guess there are many like me who think that the labels are printed in some small southern town in bulk, then couriered everywhere across the country. Well, it turns out that that’st not the case. We know for a fact that some of them are printed in Beijing, right at the foot of the Central Government and State Administration of Industry and Commerce.
How do we know? Well, the story began with us requesting wine label print samples from a printer in Beijing. The printer was quite nice, sending them via courier right after hanging up the phone and they arrived the next day. The print quality wasn’t bad. However, it was what was printed ON the labels that gave us a bit of a shock.
By the way, dear printer, if by any chance you are reading this, please know that by no means are we criticizing your work or ethics. You just did the printing, not the creative naming nor label design.
First and foremost is everyone’s favorite, Chateau Lafite (拉菲 lā fēi). I’m pretty sure the entire Rothschild family never thought that their product would have so many officially unknown siblings in China. This Chateau LAFLTE is quite frequently spotted around the country. We were honored to know that some of these labels are actually printed fairly close to us.
Whoa! On the Chinese back label it says that the seller is a trading company called “拉菲尔 (lā fēi ěr” in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. Don’t know how that reads in its “foreign” form. LaFEAR? Also, on the back label it says that the producer is a winery called “拉莫内特 (lā mò nèi tè)”. I know as much French as a rock, but I don’t think there is anything that sounds like this on the front label. Apparently it’s safe to claim one thing on the front label, and another on the back label.
At the bottom right corner of the front label right between “12.5% vol” and “750ml” they left a “PROFUCE OF FRANCE” in English. Here at Allegravita we emphasize the greatest care in every single thing we do. By our standard, the inventor of this label is disqualified as a proper faker. End of story.
Label number two looks way more like the real business. “Produit de France”, “Contient des sulfites”, “GRAND VIN DE BORDEAUX”. You see? That’s the spirit we are talking about. If not for the fact that the “YAMOO” name and logo do not fit with the rest of the design style, and there seems to be no grand cru by that name in Bordeaux, we might just let it pass.
Talking about the brand… What is a “yamoo” exactly? It certainly doesn’t sound like a French word. A quick search returned a surprising number of entries in Arabic. We did however find a nice gentleman who explains what “yamoo” is on YouTube.
Vineyard manager at Chateau (de?) Yamoo: “Shhhh. We are about to start crushing for this vintage. The grapes won’t know what hit’em. Yamoo on three. One, two, THREE!”
As a side note, a Groupon clone (hint: look at the domain) has offered a discount deal on Yamoo wines before. The price was axed from the claimed 178 kuai to a whopping low of 39 kuai. That says something about the true value of the wine. The introduction of the brand on the deal page said:
“De Yamoo family has been producing wines in Bordeaux, France for over 700 years. King Edward III contracted the then-owner of the winery, Mr. Gerardde Yamoo back in May of 1342, appointing the winery as a wine supplier for the Royal Family, and named it Chateau de Yamoo. It’s documented that Chateau Yamoo was rated grand cru as early as before 1858.”
We are not sure about the British king contracting the Bordeaux winemaker or the unheard of grand cru. What we are sure of is that 311 poor folks bought it.
Star of the day. Invented, made, and marketed in China. You might be wondering what the heck “D.Play” stands for. Well on the chubby label it says (this is exactly what is on the label, spelling and grammar have not been corrected for authenticity):
“D.Play originated form English ‘Do & Play’, meaning ‘happy doing works, happy leading your life’. No matter working or playing, you need to have passion in it. That’s the spirit of D.Play.”
Yes in English they say “I’m doing my works”, but they never swap “do” and “work” when they are both considered verbs. “See me work this one out” and “See me do one” are totally different. As if this were not bad enough, they smashed a strapline on the slim label:
“Drinking D.Play for love.”
WUT???? Do? Play? Love? Mate, are you sure it’s just wine inside that bottle?
Moreover, the label says the winery is located in Gansu Province, while the cellar door is in Jiangsu Province. Here is a picture to compliment what is probably the longest stretched winery and vineyard on this planet.
In the “ingredient” part, D.Play wines feature “100% grape juice” as all wines should, as well as… chlorine dioxide. Yeah you are reading it right. You would normally find 二氧化硫 (èr yǎng huà liú, sulfur dioxide) on other wine labels, but on this label, it’s clearly written as “二氧化氯” (ér yǎng huà lǜ, chlorine dioxide). It is said that the chemical is primarily used for bleaching and disinfecting, which are processes that are obviously not required in winemaking. The only way I can imagine how this ended up in the wine is through tap water. China uses chlorine dioxide for tap water disinfection. Maybe it’s a nice way of admitting, “our wine has been watered down, with tap water”. I’d call this “brutally honest”, like saying “My most honorable sir, this piece of steak came from humanely butchered cattle. The animal was knocked out with carbon dioxide first, then had its throat cut. Technically it twitched and bled for a full minute before dying, but trust me, it’s absolutely painless. To make sure that the product is 100% organic, we tested the feces extracted from the cattle’s intestines and there was no presence of any chemicals. Now would you like to try some? [innocently batting eyelids]”
In the fakery sector, being responsible for your consumer means you should allow them to be wrapped in the bubble of blessed ignorance.
To cap of everything, here’s a label by our friend @Beijingboyce. That’s what China needs to put an end to all Chateau LAFLTEs, Lafaytes, and LaSomethingElts. Find out more about Chateau LAFIGHT at the Grape Wall of China.
Article by Allegravita’s Head of Research, Kane Gao.