News Penfolds

Fine wine news roundup: 18-24 April



Treasury Wine Estates registers Chinese Penfolds trademark after decade-long fight

Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has finally registered ‘Ben Fu’ (奔富) – the Chinese trademark of Penfolds – some 25 years after the brand first entered the country, and after 10 years of legal battles.

Former agents of Penfolds in China originally registered the Ben Fu trademark in 1995, but after the brand parted ways with the agent the trademark was not renewed after expiration. It has since been the subject of copycats and counterfeiters – one fraudster managed to register the trademark in 2009, for example.

Now, after a decade of legal action, TWE is now the official owner of the latest trademark registration for Ben Fu in relation to wine sold in China.

Tom King, managing director of TWE North Asia, said the case was a “significant milestone” for the company, which is one of the most recognised wine brands in China.

“Protecting the integrity of our historic wine brands against trademark piracy and misappropriation has always been a priority and we have never wavered in our commitment to this endeavour,” he said. “We are delighted with the outcome, as it gives us even greater ability to enforce the protection of our brand in line with our zero-tolerance approach to IP infringements, including counterfeit and copycat brands.”


Bordeaux En Primeur wine tastings could take place ‘by end of summer’

Bordeaux wine officials have said they are working on a ‘one-off’ plan to reorganise En Primeur tastings for the 2019 vintage, and that they could take place by the end of the summer, depending on health advice.

According to the Bordeaux grand crus union (UGCB), any tasting programme will only take place if authorities believe it is safe to relax the rules on social isolation imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking to Decanter, UGCB president Ronana Laborde said: “The current priority is to continue fighting against this disease. It is nevertheless hard not to look ahead to the aftermath, which seems to be gradually taking shape.

“The programme that we envision [for the tastings] will be professional and intimate, rather than a cause for celebration. After this difficult time, we hope we will be able to invite our friends and partners, in the coming weeks, in somewhat unusual circumstances, to taste the 2019 vintage, which inspires a great deal of curiosity and discussion.”


Sotheby’s Hong Kong reveals revised 2020 schedule

Sotheby’s week-long 2020 spring sale in Hong Kong – originally due to take place in March – will now be held from 5th to 11th of July, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The event, which was postponed due to the coronavirus, will feature three fine and rare wine sales, alongside sales of ceramics, paintings, art and jewellery.

Meanwhile, the auction house is hosting an online wine sale this month. ‘The Wonderful Cellar: Part II’ is open for bidding from 28th April to 12th May, and will feature a range of top Bordeaux, including Chateau Margaux 1996 and Chateau Cheval Blanc 2009, as well as fine Champagnes from Krug, Salon's Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut and Dom Perignon.


Georgian wine continues UK popularity surge

Georgian wine exports to the UK surged in the first quarter of 2020, according to the latest data from the National Wine Agency. The first three months of the year saw volume exports jump by 317% to 42,924 bottles – up from 10,292 bottles in the same period last year.

In February, the agency reported that Georgia exported more than 168,000 bottles to the UK throughout 2019, compared to 105,608 in 2018.

The increase has been helped by the arrival of a number of new importers, including Amathus, Berkmann, Boutinot and Hallgarten Novum, which join a number of existing Georgian specialist importers.

According to Sarah Abbott MW, whose company Swirl manages the Georgian wine campaign, 2020 looks set to be “a good year for Georgian wines in the UK”, despite the challenges currently facing the wine trade.

“We are so pleased to see these latest export figures. We have run the campaign for three years, and a key objective has been to bring the contemporary, accessible side of Georgian wine to the UK market. We also continue to support the many specialist importers of quirky, niche styles of wine with which Georgia first caught our attention,” she said. 

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