One of the world’s best-known premium booze brands, Moët, will relabel its bottles for export to Russia, after a new law, signed by President Vladimir Putin, reserved exclusive use of the term ‘champagne’ for domestic products.
Bloomberg reported on Sunday that the LVMH group, which owns the centuries-old company, had agreed to print labels on its tipple describing it as ‘sparkling wine’. Although produced in the Champagne region of France since 1743, the rule change bans it and its foreign-made competitors from using the name. Instead, only Russian fizz will be able to use the term.
In a statement, the company said its brands had “always respected the legislation in force wherever they operate, and will resume deliveries as quickly as possible once these adjustments are made.” The ‘sparkling wine’ designation will have to be printed on the back of the bottle, but not the front.
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The bill, signed into force by the president on Friday, prompted an initially furious reaction from French winemakers. A letter, seen by Moscow’s RBK business daily, had indicated that LVMH would suspend exports to the Eastern European nation in protest.
Leonid Popovich, the head of the Russian Union of Grape-growers and Winemakers blasted their response as “blackmail,” and said, “If you don’t want to supply it, then don’t. Russia has sparkling wines that are no worse in quality, taste, and aroma, and our consumers won’t be lacking.”
Russia has a long history of producing popular sparkling wines using the same name. The most famous variety, Sovetskoye Champanskoye, or Soviet Champagne, is a favorite on dinner tables across the country during the New Year holidays. It is now sold in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Moldova, as well as in Russia. Ukraine, another former Eastern Bloc state, ordered its local variety to be renamed in 2016, in an effort to shed ties to its Soviet past.
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