MOSCOW — For most connoisseurs, sparkling wine may only be considered champagne if it originates from the Champagne area of France and is produced according to strict guidelines. A new Russian regulation asserts that the term can only be used to refer to Russian wine.
The rule has prompted outrage, with renowned producer Moet-Hennessy halting champagne supplies to Russia on Monday. The phrase may only be used for “Russian champagne” under the new rule, which was passed on Friday.
Champagne — “shampanskoye” in Russian — has been used as a general word for a wide range of sparkling wines since the Soviet era, some of which retail for as low as 150 rubles ($2) per bottle, contradicting champagne’s premium image.
According to official news agency RIA-Novosti, Moet-Hennessy spokesperson Anne Catherine Grimal said, “These provisions lead to a temporary suspension of product delivery to analyze the impact of this new law.”
The regulation, according to the director of one of Russia’s largest wineries, goes too far.
RIA-Novosti quoted Pavel Titov, president of Abrau-Dyurso, as saying, “There is no doubt in my mind that true champagne originates from the Champagne area in France.” “It’s critical to safeguard Russian wines in our market and offer them with a broad range of support. However, the legislation enacted must be sensible and not contradictory to common sense.”