Champagne Wars: In a Tizz Over Fizz

Champagne Wars: In a Tizz Over Fizz

France’s Champagne producers are up in arms over a new law in Russia which is demanding they rebrand their world famous fizz as ‘sparkling wine’. President Vladimir Putin has passed a law which says only Russia’s homegrown Shampanskoye can be called champagne and all foreign producers must label their wines as ‘sparkling wine’, rather than ‘champagne’.

Comité Champagne, the body which guards the interests and standards of the French wine-growing region, couldn’t put it more simply than the slogan on its website, which says: “Il n’est Champagne que de la Champagne” (Champagne is the only Champagne).

According to Maxime Toubart and Jean-Marie Barillère, co-presidents of Comité Champagne: “Depriving the Champagne producers of the right to use the name ‘Champagne’ is scandalous; it is our common heritage and the apple of our eye.” In a statement, the committee said: “Comité Champagne deplores the fact that this regulation does not provide Russian consumers with clear and transparent information on the origin and characteristics of wines.

Sovichampagne poster

A 1952 poster for Soviet Shampanskoye

It regrets that this new law calls into question more than 20 years of bilateral discussions between France and Russia on the protection of designations of origin.” Barillère and Toubart have asked Champagne companies to stop all shipments to Russia until further notice, and large producers such as Moët have already threatened to do so.

The name Champagne is protected in over 120 countries through its AOC label, which guarantees particular methods of production in a specific geographical area. Sovetskoye Shampanskoye was created in 1928 as a state-sponsored alternative to Champagne and following the collapse of the USSR was given a new lease of life by a number of Russian producers. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has joined the fray, hinting that he may sue Russia over the use of the name Champagne.

From France Today Magazine

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A former foreign correspondent in the United States for leading French newspapers, Patrice is currently based in the south of France where he writes for various magazines.

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