Russia: a law on wine products provides for new labelling of sparkling wines and champagnes

15/07/2021

A law signed by Vladimir Putin on 2 July stipulates that from now on, only sparkling wines produced in Russia will be able to use the name “champagne”, which would mean that French champagne exported to Russia would have to be labelled “sparkling wine”.

More precisely, this law provides for the affixing of a back label presenting sparkling wines not produced in Russia as “sparkling wines” in Cyrillic characters. They will therefore no longer be able to use the term “champanskoïe” (editor’s note: champagne in Cyrillic). On the other hand, Champagne wines retain the exclusive right to use the name Champagne in Latin characters on the main label.

LVMH, which owns the Moët et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon brands, reacted to this announcement through its Russian subsidiary, which declared that it was temporarily suspending its champagne deliveries to Russia. For the record, the term champagne is protected in France by an appellation d’origine contrôlée: the wine that can benefit from it is subject to a precise geographical perimeter covering only the Champagne region.

The president of the Russian Winegrowers’ Union reacted to this announcement by describing the company’s cessation of deliveries as “blackmail”.

While LVHM has finally decided to comply with the new legal requirements of the Russian authorities, while corrections are being made, other champagne producers have called on French and European diplomats.

The co-presidents of the Champagne Committee said: “To deprive 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.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed his disapproval at the National Assembly: “If, by any chance, there are proven violations of WTO rules, then we will continue, as we had previously envisaged doing with Russia. I hope that dialogue will resolve this difficulty.

This case is reminiscent of the “Cognac” labelling on a brandy made in Armenia since 1887, considered to be one of their flagship products. The partnership agreement between Armenia and the European Union, which came into force on 1 March, will oblige the country to gradually abandon the cognac appellation. Armenia will be able to export under this name until 2032 on post-Soviet territory only, then it will have until 2043 to sell the remaining stocks. After that, the country will have to answer to international trade arbitration.

UGGC - Champagne

By Xenia Bodiansky and the IP/IT team at UGGC Avocats

Sources

https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2021/07/07/appellation-champagne-en-russie-le-litige-pourrait-se-regler-devant-l-omc_6087347_3234.html

https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/alcool-le-cognac-armenien-prie-de-changer-de-nom

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