CHINA – The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has granted protected status in China to the drinks category Champagne, making it officially illegal for copycat products to use the ‘Champagne’ name on their labels.
In a statement, AQSIQ said ‘geographic mark protection’ had been granted to Champagne, with clear criteria drawn up for the wines’ origin, production and grape varieties.
This move will stop domestic sparkling wine producers as well as producers of other goods from using the name ‘Champagne’ on their products and marketing.
Wang Wei, Director of the Beijing-based Champagne Bureau in China, said, “This registration will enable the competent authorities to effectively act against the misuse which is not frequent but needs to be quickly detected and stopped.”
China is currently the fastest-growing market for Champagne. In 2012 shipments exceeded 2 million bottles, an increase of 51.8% over 2011. China is now the fifth largest Champagne market outside the European Union and this growth is expected to continue.
Champagne authority the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) has welcomed the news, saying it “will provide Champagne wines with the optimal level of protection against misuse of the appellation as well as acknowledgement that origins matter.”
“China’s decision to register Champagne as a geographical indication is a major achievement for the champenois,” commented Monsieur Charles Goemaere, Head of Comité Champagne’s legal department. “It reaffirms that ‘Champagne only comes from Champagne’ in what is fast becoming one of Champagne’s most promising markets while sending a strong message that origin matters.”
China has previously granted similar protected geographical status to Cognac, Scotch whisky and wines from the Napa Valley. A geographical indication is a specific intellectual property right that designates a product from a specific region and whose characteristics result in both the natural conditions of its origin and the expertise of local producers.
For Champagne, it is in the Champagne vineyards, a region located 150 kilometres east of Paris, France, that Champagne houses and growers have been producing, for more than three centuries and under stringent regulations, the sparkling wine product.