‘Shampanskoye’ supply from France halted after Putin says champagne is Russian

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    Renowned winemaker Moet Hennessy said Monday that its champagne shipments to Russia were suspended after President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Friday saying the term “champagne” is allowed to be used only for “Russian champagne.”

    “These provisions lead to a temporary suspension of deliveries of products to assess the impact of this new law,” Moet-Hennessy spokeswoman Anne Catherine Grimal said, according to state news agency RIA-Novosti. Moet Hennessy is part of French luxury goods group LVMH and known for such brands as Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Dom Perignon.

    Renowned winemaker Moet Hennessy said Monday that its champagne shipments to Russia were suspended after President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Friday saying the term “champagne” is allowed to be used only for “Russian champagne.” (iStock)

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    champagne

    For most aficionados, a glass of sparkling wine can be called champagne only if it comes from the region of France with that name and is made under specific regulations. Since Soviet times, champagne — “shampanskoye” in Russian — has been used as a generic term for a wide range of sparkling wines, some of which contradict champagne’s luxury image by selling for as little as 150 rubles ($2) a bottle.

    The law has sparked controversy: Even the head of one of Russia’s significant winemakers thinks the law goes too far. “For me, there is no doubt that real champagne comes from the Champagne region in France,” Pavel Titov, president of Abrau-Dyurso, told RIA-Novosti. “It is essential to protect Russian wines in our market and provide them with extensive patronage. But the legislative measures taken must be reasonable and not contradict common sense.”

    The French champagne industry group asked its partners to pause all Russian shipments. “The Champagne Committee deplores the fact that this legislation does not ensure that Russian consumers have clear and transparent information about the origins and characteristics of wine,” group co-presidents Maxime Toubart and Jean-Marie Barillère said in a statement.

    Wine consultant Anna Chernyshova helps the rich build spirits collections. “My phone has been ringing off the hook,” she told the AFP news agency. “My clients and I are thinking about what to do next.” She thinks a new law is a nonsense. “How will they walk back on it?” she told AFP. “So many officials love this champagne.”

    Since Soviet times, champagne — “shampanskoye” in Russian — has been used as a generic term for a wide range of sparkling wines, some of which contradict champagne’s luxury image by selling for as little as 150 rubles ($2) a bottle. (Stock) Drinks market expert Vadim Drobiz doesn’t think the law is a big deal. “If there is no Moet, there won’t be a state coup, and Russian elites will not commit suicide,” Drobiz told AFP.

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    The law is now being ridiculed severely. “Now it’s necessary to ban Scots and Americans from using the word ‘whisky,'” joked restaurateur Sergei Mironov.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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