Dumbfounding news from the Kremlin as a new Russian Law has ruled that only sparkling wine produced in Russia can be sold as ‘Champagne’.
French suppliers were confused by the new law, approved by President Putin, that means French fizz will now have to be sold only as ‘sparkling wine’ in Russia.
Moët Hennessy’s Moscow office asserted that French producers weren’t prepared to change the name of their product for the Russian market. Furthermore a ban on deliveries would be in place until a solution could be found. The ramifications of this move have lead to the suspension of imports while the company explores a rebrand of its bottles.
Currently, Russia imports something in the region of 50 million litres of sparkling wine each year, of which 13% is French Champagne. There are already several brands of Russian ‘Champagne’ on sale in the country, produced in southern regions such as Rostov and Krasnodar for as little as 270 roubles (£2.70) a bottle.
Speaking on the new ruling, Maxim Kashirin, the head of the Simple wine company, told the RBC media group website:
“It is no secret that Russia will not be able to meet its needs without imports. If we cannot import products, the state is simply shooting itself in the foot.”
Speaking with AFP, wine consultant Anna Chernyshova said that the ruling had sparked confusion among wine collectors, “My phone has been ringing off the hook. Me and my clients are thinking what to do next.”
Gennady Gudkov, an opposition politician, suggested that Russia may now ban Scottish companies from selling “whisky” in Russia.
France is fiercely protective of the term ‘Champagne’ and the European Union and many other countries strictly reserve the name for wine made in the eponymous region in the northeast of France.
To learn more about Champagne, head over to Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne’s official website.