Despite great efforts, the French government has not been able to prevent it: Since the turn of the year, France’s champagne producers are no longer allowed to print the Russian designation „Shampanskoye“ in Cyrillic on their labels in the export business with Russia. The Russian government wants this to be reserved exclusively for Russian wine houses.
FRANCE (Paris) – French producers are still allowed to use „Champagne“ in Latin script, but they have to add „sparkling wine“ in Cyrillic script on the back of the bottle – a sacrilege for the proud industry. The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, had caused much dispute with Paris.
The rules had been supposed to take effect earlier, but Paris negotiated a delay until the end of 2021. „This allowed us to ensure that non-compliant bottles shipped before July could be sold,“ explained the Comité Champagne industry association. However, France was not able to completely avert the new rules.
Paris has not given up yet: according to information from the French Ministry of Trade, talks are continuing. „We continue to work on this matter together with the European Commission to defend our wine and spirits industry, including Champagne,“ a ministry representative told the press.
For their part, representatives of the producers traveled to Russia in November to meet with producers there. The Russians „are in the process of building their own top wineries,“ said Maxime Toubart, co-president of the Comité Champagne. He said this gave him hope: Russian producers could „in the medium term“ abandon the designation „Shampanskoye“ and create their own appellations.
France’s Champagne winemakers have been defending the protected designation of origin by legal means for decades: In Germany, they scored a victory in 2019 against the discounter Aldi, which had a “Champagne sorbet” on sale. In Switzerland, the Champagne Comitée was successful in banning the village name Champagne from wines produced there, and in Spain, a lawsuit against a tapas bar called Champanillo is still simmering – see links at the end of this article. Outside the EU, however, they have a harder time. In addition to Russia, the USA also does not recognize the protected designation of origin for Champagne.
As an export market, Russia comes in 15th place for French champagne winemakers, with around two million of the 150 million bottles exported to the country each year. However, according to the Comité Champagne, the Russian upper class often buys particularly noble and thus expensive cuvées.
We have published four other articles on the subject. Here are the links to read:
- 2021.11.08 – France achieves postponement until the end of the year in the champagne dispute with Russ
- 2021.07.13 – Putin spoils French vintners’ champagne mood
- 2021.07.07 – Aldi v. Comité Champagne in the „Champagner Sorbet“ case
- 2021.04.30 – ECJ Advocate General: Champagne designation protected against „free-riding“
- 2021.04.23 – Champagne is not allowed on the label