Under new Putin law, only wines made in Russia can be called Champagne...?!
What next, Colombian-made cake called 'Yorkshire Pudding'?
Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly signed a new decree dictating that only wine made in the country can be called 'Champagne', asking French wine producers who intend to sell their product in Russia to label their wine as 'sparkling wine'. Needless to say, the French aren't happy and having been raised in a country with similar wine laws [Italy], I'm afraid I'm gonna have to say that I'm 100% with my French friends on this one.
Photo by Sven Wilhelm on Unsplash
French wine laws are extremely strict but there's a good reason, and the French do whatever they can to explain why adhering to these rules is so important. The name Champagne is a reference to the region in France where Champagne wine originated, and the label is protected, so to call a wine that's made in Russia 'champagne' is the same as calling a French Bulldog 'Siberian'. Okay, bad example. But you get the point.
The Comité Champagne - the entity that promotes and protects the interests of Champagne worldwide - released a press note to express their concern and discontent. "Depriving the people of Champagne the right to use their name is scandalous. It's our common heritage and the apple of our eye," said the Comité's presidents Maxime Toubart and Jean-Marie Barillère. "The Champagne name is protected in more than 120 countries".
This move puts Champagne producers in a bit of a pickle: they can either comply and lose their pride, or refuse to comply and lose money. A lot of money. France produces around 231 million bottles of champagne a year and exports around 6.5 million litres of Champagne to Russia every year. Moët Hennessy alone exports 1 million. On Saturday, the French brand threatened to stop sending Champagne to Russia but a few days later, according to The Guardian, they reportedly began relabeling the bottles and stating that the brand has "always respected the law in place wherever they operate and will restart deliveries as soon as it is able to make the [label] changes," they were quoted saying.