Rosset Coronavirus Comment Sparks Chinese Backlash

A social media post by Patrick Rosset, the son of Fabrice Rosset, the CEO of Champagne Deutz, with regards Covid-19 has aroused the ire of the Chinese wine community; though Deutz has issued a full apology and said the post was “hugely regrettable” and the result of a “panic attack”.

On 15 March, Patrick Rosset, who works in sales at the Champagne house, posted on Facebook that there should be a boycott on Chinese products and reparations made by the Chinese state to pay for the impact of Covid-19 on the wider world.

The post sparked an uproar from angry Chinese on social media, with users calling him a racist.

In the evening, Rosset deleted the controversial post and put up a bilingual apology in French and traditional Chinese to express the regret of his “stupid and exaggerated statement”.

However, the apology failed to calm the situation attracting yet more accusations. Later that night, Rosset’s personal Facebook account and Linkedin profile were deactivated.

The comment was picked up by a major Chinese wine media outlet which triggered further angry reactions in the industry, and calls for a boycott of Champagne Deutz.

Some wine importers, merchants and online retailers said they were going to delist the Champagne indefinitely and will not welcome future partnerships. Some Chinese also said the brand should be blacklisted forever as a consequence of “shaming China”.

Champagne Deutz, has moved quickly to try and calm matters with a full apology. Fabrice Rosset himself added both a professional and personal statement:

“Dear and honourable Friends from China,

“I am appalled and horrified by Patrick Rosset’s personal remarks on his social media platform.

“Not a single word of what Patrick said reflects the values our companies or our staff hold. His personal remarks definitely did not show how we feel about the outbreak or the toll it took on China. All of us here are full of admiration at the courage shown by the Chinese people.

“A wind of a panic is blowing over the country here in France … the same wind is blowing over more and more countries in the world. But by no means could this be an excuse for such unacceptable comments. Under the current circumstances, it should be a time for all human beings to unite together, fighting against the outbreak.

“As Patrick’s father I humbly present my deepest and most sincere apologies to everyone in China who rightfully feels offended.

“As the name of Rosset is associated to Deutz, the House of Deutz presents its deepest apologies too. However, I wish to stress again that Patrick doesn’t speak for the House; and the latter certainly condemns such a personal declaration. Even if words exceeded his usual behaviour, he deserves to be punished and he will be punished.

“Let me please convey again, in the name of Deutz and in the name of the Rosset family our regrets and our deep sympathy to China and to the Chinese who face the same tragic times that we are living here.

“I am so sorry.”

Founded in 1838, Champagne Deutz the house was acquired by the Rouzaud family in 1993. The Rouzaud family, which also owns Louis Roederer Champagne, had its own controversy some years back when current CEO Frédéric Rouzaud made comments regarding the popularity of Cristal among American rappers that were misconstrued as racist.

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