French Champagne Makers Decry 'Scandalous' Putin Law

His legislation suggests the only real champagne is from Russia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2021 11:37 AM CDT
Putin Signs Law Suggesting Champagne Is Russian
In this Dec. 6, 2017 file photo, vineyards are pictured in Villevenard, in the Champagne region, eastern France.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

French Champagne producers make one thing very clear: The only legal Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France. To their chagrin, Russia sees things a bit differently. Under a law signed by President Vladimir Putin on Friday, only local producers can slap the word "shampanskoye," the Russian equivalent of "champagne," on their wine labels. The BBC reports foreign producers of sparkling wine can still put "champagne" on the front of their labels—something France's main champagne industry group appears to dispute—but must add "sparkling wine" to the back. French newspaper Le Monde suggests the law favors Putin's billionaire friend and associate Yuri Kovalchuk, who owns wineries in Crimea, where sparkling wine is produced, per the Guardian. It’s "unacceptable" regardless, according to France's Comite Champagne.

"Depriving the people of Champagne the right to use their name is scandalous," co-presidents Maxime Toubart and Jean-Marie Barillere say in a statement, admonishing the lack of "clear and transparent information about the origins and characteristics of wine," per the Guardian and Reuters. The group is asking members to stop shipments to Russia in protest, claiming the term "Champagne" has legal protection in 120 countries. They're backed by French Trade Minister Franck Riester, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie, and the European Commission, which has vowed to "take the necessary steps if this law enters into force." France's best-known champagne maker, Moet Hennessy, suspended deliveries to Russia over the weekend before announcing it had added the "sparkling wine" designation to bottles so exports could resume. (More champagne stories.)

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