Vladimir Putin’s ‘champanskoïé’ coup described as the “most significant usurpation of a wine appellation in history”

Monday July 12 2021 by Vitisphere

 The Russian law not only destabilises the Champagne industry, it also provides geographical indication experts with an unprecedented case study. The Russian law not only destabilises the Champagne industry, it also provides geographical indication experts with an unprecedented case study. - Photo credit : Kremlin

Кто не рискует, тот не пьёт шампанскогоor, “only those who take risks drink Champagne”.  Quoting a popular saying, Vladimir Putin’s words now ring particularly true. His latest diplomatic coup underscores his penchant for controversy. By stripping Champagne of its translation into Cyrillic (Шампанское, pronounced champanskoïé) and reserving it for Russian sparkling wines – with Champagne now to be labelled simply as ‘sparkling wine’ in Cyrillic – his latest law on alcoholic beverages has caused widespread indignation, from the wine region itself to France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Brussels.

The French Minister for Foreign Trade, Franck Riester, reacted in no uncertain terms: “Any compromise over the protection of the interests of our Champagne producers, who are explicitly challenged by the new Russian law, is out of the question. The legislation reflects a protectionist standpoint by Russia in the wine industry that we have been witnessing for some time. Once we have thoroughly reviewed the text, we will not hesitate to take legal action against Russia at the WTO with our European partners, if a satisfactory solution cannot be found through dialogue”.

Although the full content of this new legislation is still being examined, it seems to be the most significant usurpation of intellectual property for European beverages implemented by a third country”, warned majority MEPs Irene Tolleret (vice-chair of the wine intergroup) and Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (vice-chair of the committee on international trade), in a letter to the European Commission. Questioned by Vitisphere, the European Commission expressed its concern: “Our assessment of the effects of this law is ongoing, but it is clear that it may have a significant impact on EU wine and spirits exports to the Russian Federation. In particular, it shows blatant disregard for the EU's protected geographical indications and designations of origin”.

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