Uproar in Champagne over Russian law requiring sparkling wine label

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By Euronews
A new Russian law would require French winemakers to write "sparkling wine" on the back.
A new Russian law would require French winemakers to write "sparkling wine" on the back.   -   Copyright  Pixabay

French champagne producers hit back at Russia after a new law signed last week said that champagne not produced in Russia would need to be labelled "sparkling wine".

The new law reserves the Russian transliteration of "champagne" only for Russian producers of sparkling wines, meaning brands have to change the back label, champagne producers said.

"Depriving the people of Champagne of the right to use the name 'Champagne' (in Cyrillic) is scandalous; it is our common heritage and the apple of our eye," said Maxime Toubart and Jean-Marie Barillère, co-chairs of the Interprofessional Committee for Champagne Wine.

Champagne is a sparkling wine produced in the north-east French region of the same name under a specific set of rules. Sparkling wine produced outside the region is typically not considered champagne.

It is "protected" in more than 120 countries, the committee says.

The committee added in a statement that it regretted "that this new law calls into question more than twenty years of bilateral discussions between France and Russia on the protection of appellations of origin."

France's agriculture and food minister Julien Denormandie said on Tuesday that he was aware of the situation and had been following it very closely for a long time.

"France's position is very clear. The word champagne comes from those beautiful regions of France where champagne is produced," Denormandie told Sud Radio.

He added that "some countries" now say that "champagne is us, and France is not champagne" adding that people could "imagine the reaction of the French authorities."

Denormandie said they were continuing to work on the subject.