Russian sparkling winemakers are popping bottles, while the French champagne industry is fizzing in frustration.
Last Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law granting Russian sparkling winemakers the exclusive use of the term shampanskoe (Russian for “champagne”) on the label.
But not everybody is raising a toast: French Ag Minister Julien Denormandie said “champagne” could only be used on sparkling wines from the specific region in France.
Champagne exporters grab a sharpie: Exports of the bubbly to Russia have come to a flat stop while champagne makers decide how to add the now required “sparkling wine” in Cyrillic characters on the back of the bottle.
Russia isn’t the heaviest champagne drinker (that would be the E.U. and the U.S.). But it did account for nearly 1.4% of Champagne’s total exports in 2020 — making Russia the 13th biggest market by volume there (and the only one banning the region’s name from the bottles).
What’s ahead: It’s all hands on deck for France’s foreign affairs team as it works with Russian officials to reverse the new law. They are bringing out the big guns with escalation to the World Trade Organization if necessary.