Battle of the fizz: French wine-makers halt exports as Russia claims ‘Champagne’ name
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Most bubbly connoisseurs know that a bottle of sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of France with that name and is made under certain regulations. However, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin thinks otherwise.
A new Russian law makes the counter-claim that the word Champagne can only be used for Russian sparkling wine.
Confused? Let’s break it down.
French Champagne producers are being forced to rebrand their prized fizz to "sparkling wine" on bottles destined for Russia following the introduction of a new law brought in by President Putin.
The law means wine made in France's Champagne region can only be sold in Russia if it is called "sparkling wine".
It is no secret that French winemakers are fiercely protective of the term Champagne. While sparkling wines are produced worldwide, the designation Champagne is reserved exclusively for sparkling wines from the Champagne region, made by the governing body Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne regulations.
This has led other sparkling wine producing countries to have names for their bubbly. South Africa has Methode Cap Classique, Spain has Cava, Italy has Spumante and Portugal has Espumante.
But Putin's law requires all non-Russian producers of sparkling wine, including the French, to describe their product as such on the label on the back of the bottle.
Judging from what Twitter users had to say about the new law, many do not approve of it.
@DoctorHenryCT wrote: “Did I miss something? Champagne is called Champagne because it comes from the Champagne region in France. There is no such region in Russia. They can call their vodka based on wherever the best potatoes grow.”
@Caroline59Fox wrote: “I’m just going to say this out loud, because, well you never know, he does know that Champagne is called Champagne because it’s made in…Champagne? What is he really up to I wonder?”
Another user @textforlunch commented: “Bullying at it's finest. Sad thing is Moët will comply, because they don't want to lose the market and the dictator knows that.”
French Trade Minister Franck Riester also took to the platform to announce that he was tracking the new Russian law closely, in contact with the wine industry and France’s European partners.
“We will unfailingly support our producers and French excellence,” wrote Riester.
And just like how @textforlunch has said that “the sad thing is Moët will comply because they don't want to lose the market”, reports have revealed that the Champagne houses of Moët Hennessy will soon include a “sparkling wine” mention on their bottles shipped to Russia to respect the new law that reserves the name of the French region for bubbly wines made in the former Soviet country.
According to Decanter, the owners of Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon and Krug, have suspended deliveries to the country to make the change to the back labels of its Champagnes.
The company said: “The MH Champagne maisons have always respected the legislation in force wherever they operate and will resume deliveries as quickly as possible once these adjustments are made,” reported the wine site.