Do not confuse “Champanskoye” and “Champagne”. In Russia, consumers should no longer be mistaken from January 1, 2022. French producers of the precious beverage have indeed had to resign themselves to complying with the new Russian requirements. Which therefore obliges them to no longer leave their famous name written in the Cyrillic alphabet on the back labels of their bottles sold on Russian territory.
The name is now reserved for the local production of “Champanskoye”, a sparkling wine. Champagne AOC is replaced by “sparkling wine”, which Russia has been demanding since a law of July 2.
This provision had then aroused strong indignation from producers and distributors of champagne, taken aback by this sudden measure and anxious to protect their designation of origin. Several French ministers strongly protested. Paris had finally obtained from Moscow, at the end of October, a two-month moratorium on the application of the new Russian rules, in particular in order to sell their stocks already labeled and sometimes already shipped.
A useful moratorium
This moratorium on controls “has played its role”, declares the Champagne Committee today. “It gave Champagne companies time to adapt and change their labeling to comply with the new Russian regulations”, underlines this inter-professional committee which brings together the winegrowers and merchants of the appellation. “It made it possible to ensure that the goods which had been sent before the month of July and which did not comply with the new regulations would be able to be sold and consumed” before the agencies in charge of the control began their inspections, according to the same source.
As of July 4, Moët Hennessy (LVMH group) announced its intention to comply with the new legislation in force, by making adjustments to its labels as soon as possible.
However, the people of Champagne fully intend to continue their long-term fight on the recognition by Russia of their appellation of origin and the defense of the name Champagne, with the support of the French government. During a meeting of the Franco-Russian Economic, Financial, Industrial and Commercial Council (Cefic) last week, France and Russia “agreed to continue discussing in the coming months the new Russian legislation of July 2 and the question of labeling ”, declares the entourage of the Minister for Foreign Trade Franck Riester.
“I am quite optimistic for the future”
“We remain mobilized, in conjunction with the European Commission, to continue to move forward on this file and to defend our wine and spirits sector, in particular champagne,” the ministry added.
For their part, champagne professionals traveled to Russia in November to meet Russian producers. The latter “are in the process of developing their own sectors of excellence in wine”, declares Maxime Toubart, president of the Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne, who was taking part in the trip.
“This move upmarket is useful to us,” said Mr. Toubart, who is also co-chairman of the Champagne Committee. He hopes “that in the medium term”, Russian producers will end up abandoning the name “Champanskoye” to create their own names.
The United States and Russia “are the last two main countries where the champagne designation of origin is not fully protected,” notes the Champagne Committee. “Overall, I think that Russia could share with us the importance of appellations of origin, so I’m quite optimistic for the future,” said Franck Riester during a trip to Washington in mid-November.
Russia is the fifteenth champagne export market with 1.8 million bottles sold in 2019, which represents 1.5% of total champagne sales, according to the Champagne Committee. But “it is a promising and rewarding market. Russian consumers love great vintages and they also taste champagne on the occasion of their travels ”in France, he emphasizes.