Battle of the fizz: French ‘sparkling wine’ exports to Russia resume
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France's champagne industry group has resumed exports to Russia despite a Russian law forcing foreign champagne producers to add a "sparkling wine" reference to the back of their bottles, reports revealed.
This comes after a new Russian law made the counter claim in July that the word Champagne can only be used for Russian sparkling wine. French Champagne producers were being forced to re-brand their prized fizz to "sparkling wine" on bottles destined for Russia following the introduction of the new law brought in by President Vladimir Putin. The law meant 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 required 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. But recent reports reveal that lobby group Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) voted to lift the suspension from September 15.
The Drinks Business notes that the decision to resume shipments was born from a desire “not to penalise Russian consumers”, who represent the 15th largest export market for Champagne and generate around 35million Euros per year, according to figures from Comité Champagne. They reveal that the move, however, does not indicate that France is taking the label slightly lying down.
According to the online magazine, the Comité says the Champagne sector continues to demand full recognition of its appellation in Russia, and the amendment of this law to provide consumers with clear and transparent information, and that French agriculture minister Julien Denormandie insisted this month that the French government would not let the matter rest.
They also reveal that Russia claims its new law is protecting the domestic Russian sparkling industry, but Moscow restaurants and bars are reported to be baffled by the move, and few plan to alter their drinks menus to remove world-famous brands such as Moët Hennessy and Dom Perignon from the ‘Champagne’ section of their lists.