CM – French deliveries of champagne to Russia were halted in “bubbling war”

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Theo Merz

Russian oligarchs face a shortage of champagne after French producers temporarily suspended deliveries to the country due to a new law requiring them to label their drinks as « sparkling wine » .

Last week, President Vladimir Putin signed a law stating that only wine produced in Russia could be labeled as “champagne”, while foreign producers would have to rename their sparkling wine.

The controlled designation of origin « Champagne » is subject to very strict rules in France, which state that the wine must come from a small area in Champagne, be made from approved grape varieties and must mature for at least 15 months.

Moet Hennessy, which makes beverages such as Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon and Veuve Clicquot, announced its partners in Russia to cease sales.

In a letter to local companies, Moet Hennessy, part of French luxury goods group LVMH, said the Inventories of its champagnes would therefore be at an « extremely low level », which would be exacerbated by a broader decline in imports in 2021.

The company later announced that it would include a « sparkling wine » on the back label of its bottles and resume deliveries as soon as these changes have been made.

Olga Sokolova, Vinicom Sales Manager, who oversees Importing and distributing Indian wine in Russia, condemned the situation as absurd when she shared Moet Hennessy’s letter on social media. « It seems like a fake, but it’s true, » she said. « As of today, black is now white and white is black. »

Others on the Internet were just as devastating by the change in the law. Exiled oligarch and Kremlin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky said he thought « the whole champagne thing was a joke. »

Sergei Mironov, a restaurant owner, meanwhile quipped that Moscow’s next step would be to defeat the Scots Prohibit the use of the word “whiskey”.

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Vadim Drobiz, director of the Center for the Study of Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets, told the business newspaper RBK that around half of the 330 million liters of still and sparkling wine imported into Russia annually could be affected.

The new law came when Mr Putin signed a decree stating that the « westernization » of Russian culture was one of the main security threats to the country. In response to EU and US sanctions over the annexation of Crimea, Moscow banned imports of Western cheese, meat and other foods in 2014.

The ban motivated local producers to develop their own versions of European goods, such as « Russian Parmesan ».

In the 1920s, the USSR created a cheaply produced « Soviet champagne » to sell luxury goods to the masses bring to. In recent years, more and more vintners have started in southern Russia.

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