Cognac under threat in Russia

Tuesday September 14 2021 by Vitisphere

For the time being, “there are many areas of uncertainty that remain vague and we are waiting for clarification”, commented one Cognac shipper.For the time being, “there are many areas of uncertainty that remain vague and we are waiting for clarification”, commented one Cognac shipper. - Photo credit : BNIC

By allowing Russian sparkling wines to take precedence over Champagne and claim sole use of the Cyrillic term for France’s prime sparkling wine appellation (шампа́нское or shampanskoye), flouting international rules on Geographical Indications (GI), the new Russian law on wines and spirits, which was adopted on July 2, has attracted a lot of attention. A lesser known fact is that the regulations apparently also affect Cognac and could cause issues for its use of its Russian translation (Коньяк or koniak). Or at least, this seems to be a possibility left open by the Russian regulations, currently under scrutiny.

Provisions for the КОНЬЯК category, which Cognac belongs to, are ambiguous. Our attention is being focused on the interpretation that Russian importers and distributors will make of this law”, the national Cognac marketing board BNIC told Vitisphere. “Interestingly, none of the provisions in principle question the front label with statements in Latin characters. The issues relate to product presentation (in the short term, references to ageing and ageing statements, and in the medium term, the right to use the category ‘КОНЬЯК’) and product certification”, says the BNIC, which points out that new technical regulations by the Eurasian Economic Union could be superimposed on Russian regulations; they are due to come into effect in January 2022.

Amidst the confusion over “short” and “medium” terms, Cognac firms do not want to overreact, and in doing so replicate the contradictory messages sent out over the suspension of shipments by Champagne firms. Faced with a threat that remains unclear, the Cognac industry is supporting talks launched by France and the European Union with the Russian authorities to suspend entry into force of the law for one or two years, while the consequences are examined. But since the first virtual meeting last July, requests for a moratorium by the European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski, have so far gone unheeded, the European Commission told Vitisphere.

 

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