Zurich, 08.07.2021 - Last week, the Russian and international press were full of headlines stating that Russia has banned French Champagne producers from calling their sparkling wine "Champagne". From now on they have to label their products as “sparkling wine” in Russia. Moet Hennessy, the leader in this industry, suddenly decided to stop delivering its production to Russia.
How accurate are these articles in the media? Is the situation affected by the fact that in Russia, as well as in the USA and Argentina, the "Champapagne" brand is not protected at all? Has this topic been at the agenda of the meeting of Presidents Putin and Biden?
The President of the Russian Union of Wine Growers and Winemakers in Russia, Leonid Popovich, gave the Swiss-Russian Chamber of Commerce an interview about the legal background. A new Federal Law (No. 468 "On Viticulture and Winemaking in the Russian Federation") was adopted in 2019 and amended on July 2, 2021. The law prohibits the import of wine concentrates, which are then diluted with inferior grapes for the Russian market. The Russian legislature was of the opinion that this was also in the interests of EU winegrowers. It would not hinder the import of bottled wines in any way, but strenghten their position as solid and traditional wine producers. Today's law only requires that foreign products also meet these quality standards enforced by the Russian Federation.
Since Russia and the USA did not protect the exclusive designation "Champagne" for French products, it is always legal for Russian winemakers to list their products as "Russian Champagne".
Instead of triggering a PR campaign, Moet simply had comply with Russian standards and add the relevant information to their etiquettes. It would just confirm that their champagne is in-line with Russian quality standards.
A delegation from the Swiss-Russian Chamber of Commerce had the opportunity to discover Russian wines and spirits, especially from the Krasnodar region, on the occasion of the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. The Swiss delegation appreciated the quality of Russian wine. And they were pleasantly surprised that Swiss winegrowers in the region mentioned can also assert themselves on the Russian market by producing excellent wine.