FRANCE: In an interesting series of events, France has hit back at a new Russian law that orders French champagne makers to label their bottles as sparkling wine.
France holds strict policies with regards to protecting its bubbly — champagne, which comes from the French region with the same name.
Russia’s new law says that only local producers can label their drinks “shampanskoye” which is the Russian equivalent of champagne. In response to this, France’s main champagne industry group stated the law “unacceptable.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 2, 2021, signed the legislation that says – foreign producers of sparkling wine to describe their products as such on the back of the bottle. Although “shampanskoye” is saved for only on the local produce, French producers are still entitled to use the word champagne on the front of bottles.
Moët Hennessy, France’s very famous champagne-maker, suspended deliveries it shipped to Russia over the weekend before adding the “sparkling wine” label on bottles to comply with the law there.
French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie on Tuesday weighed in on the debate, enforcing that only Champagne’s vineyards can truly use the name. “You can imagine the reaction of the French authorities,” Denormandie told Sud Radio, as reported by BBC. “The word champagne comes from that beautiful region of France where champagne is produced,” he told the publication.
France produces around 231 million bottles of champagne a year. With the U.K. and the U.S. being their biggest customers, France makes around €2.5bn (£2.1bn; $2.9bn) from exports.
Russia imports around 50m liters of sparkling wine every year. French champagne represents 13% of this market and Moët Hennessy 2% of this, according to BBC.
French media suggest that Moscow’s move could be an attempt to revive the “shampanskoye” sparkling wine industry in its Soviet-era home of Crimea, which, in 2014 Russia seized from Ukraine.
Champagne is designated under France’s Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) system, which as per law, gives them exclusive use of the word in countries that follow European Union (EU) laws on distinctive geographical indications.