Champagne Duh-tz? Son of French bubbly brand’s CEO upsets Chinese wine trade

China’s wine trade bubbled over in anger after the son of Champagne Deutz CEO Fabrice Rosset posted comments about the country on Facebook during the weekend in reference to the ongoing global coronavirus crisis.

“I hope that a boycott of Chinese products will still take hold,” posted Patrick Rosset in French, adding such action be taken “whatever the cost.”

“Every time, this shit starts with them,” posted Rosset, who stated that Chinese should help compensate for the economic impact.

Numerous China wine trade members reacted with outrage, many linking to this post by Wine Magazine, which said Rosset deleted the comments at 9 PM last night, five hours after posting them. Rosset also posted an apology though his account seems to have been deleted.

Wine Magazine stated that Rosset works in sales for Deutz and Delas Freres. Deutz Champagne is distributed in China by China Wine & Spirits (CWS).

“RIP [Rest In Peace] for Deutz Champagne, Delas and Louis Roederer”, “I will never buy this Champagne in my lifetime” and “Bye bye Deutz” were among the comments from wine trade members popping up on WeChat these past 24 hours. Some called on consumers and restaurants to stop buying both Deutz and its affiliated brands.

Others were less irate. One said Rosset often makes provocative comments on current affairs and quickly apologized on Facebook, but added that it likely won’t matter in this case. Several pointed to Champagne producers who have opined positively about China.

As for Wine Magazine, it struck a patriotic tone and stated “we will not forget the international friends who have strongly supported us during the epidemic, and we will not forget those individuals and brands that have used the epidemic to post inappropriate comments to hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”

The use of “hurt the feelings” is common in China for brands seen as insulting the country. There is a incredibly long list of such cases, including hotels, car makes, airlines, fashion goods, restaurant chains, singers, writers, actors and sports figures, among others.

The incident comes during tough times for China’s wine industry. Not only has the coronavirus crisis devastated sales, but this is on top of a relatively lengthy period of declining imports and, despite Chinese wines now winning thousands of awards and praise from experts, local production. (I plan to post more about how companies are dealing with the virus crisis and ways to boost sales both for imported and local brands.)

Champagne Deutz is part of Maison Louis Roederer, in the news the past few days for buying Diamond Creek Vineyards. Along with Deutz, this post lists Ramos Pinto, Delas Frères, Château de Pez, Domaines Ott, Scharffenberger Cellars, Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and Merry Edwards, among others, as other properties in the portfolio.

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