Russia appropriates the name “champagne”

Vladimir Poutine gave the green light, Friday, July 2, to an amendment of the law on the regulation of alcoholic beverages which is reacting in Russia… and in France. According to this text, only Russian producers will now have the right to display the name “champagne” on their bottles. Imported wines will have to signify a “bubbly wine” designation. This amendment clearly indicates that Russian legislation will not take into account the protection of the French appellation “Champagne AOC”.

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In reaction to this decision, the French Moët-Hennessy suspended, for a weekend, his exports to Russia. In a letter addressed to its Russian customers and to which the economic daily Knowledge had access, the French company announced that it had to carry out a new certification of its products, which should cost several million rubles.

Stalin had a mass-produced “Soviet champagne” created at the end of the 1930s, with the aim of making it accessible to all.

Having agreed, Sunday, July 4, to comply with Russian requests, it must change its labeling and rename its products in accordance with the new legislation. The Russian daily recalls that 13% of the 50 million liters of sparkling wine and champagne imported each year into Russia come from France. Moët-Hennessy represents 2% of this market.

An AOC threatened all over the world

In Russia, the term “champagne” has been used for a long time without complex and for all kinds of sparkling wines. Stalin created at the end of the 1930s a mass-produced “Soviet champagne”, with the aim of making it accessible to all.

In the aftermath of the fall of the USSR, this “Soviet champagne” became a brand synonymous with low-end sparkling wine, but still popular on special occasions. A state of affairs which has never delighted the Champagne producers, defended by the inter-professional committee for champagne wine (CIVC), and who for many years have been waging a battle intended to protect this appellation that is threatened throughout the world.

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With this amendment, the Russian authorities certainly wish to promote local sparkling wine producers. And in particular those of Crimea, ancestral producers who experienced a second youth following the annexation of the peninsula in 2014 and their full opening to the Russian market. The country’s flagship brand, Crimean wine Novy Svet, is owned by a friend of the Russian president, Yuri Kovaltchouk.

A fond of wine growing, Vladimir Poutin had raised the share of another market giant, Abrau-Durso, in January, after having indicated that he would see himself working in this company at the end of his political career.