The battle for the Champagne AOC with Russia
The history of Champagne
The sparkling version of Champagne wine was discovered by chance. It all started when the Champagne winemakers (Maisons de Champagne) tried to imitate the wines of Burgundy. However, they did not succeed, due to the cold winter in the region which caused the wines to stop fermenting in the cellars. The cold climate allowed the dormant yeast cells to wake up again in the spring and start fermenting again, causing carbon dioxide to be released from the wine into the bottle. At first, the bottles were fragile and burst, but those that survived contained sparkling wine.
The King of France, Hugues Capet, began to serve sparkling wine at official dinners at the Royal Palace. From 1715 onwards, the Duke of Orleans began to introduce the sparkling version of Champagne to the rich and famous.
Dom Pérignon started the production of Champagne wines in 1668. He is the inventor of the second fermentation in the bottle, which makes him surely the founder of Champagne as we know it today. Dom Pérignon was also the first winemaker to produce a white wine with black grapes.
The champagne appellation is threatened in Russia by a law signed by President Vladimir Putin himself on Friday 2 July. The text obliges distributors of champagne brands to write the words "sparkling wine" on the back label of the bottle. The translation of champagne into Russian - "champanskoïe", according to the French transliteration - would be reserved for Russian producers of sparkling wines.
Russia appropriates the name « champagne »
On Friday 2 July, Vladimir Putin gave the green light to an amendment to the law on the regulation of alcoholic beverages that has caused a reaction in Russia... and in France. According to this text, only Russian producers will now have the right to display the name "champagne" on their bottles. Imported wines will have to be labelled as "bubbly wine". This amendment clearly indicates that Russian legislation will not take into account the protection of the French appellation "Champagne AOC".
In Russia, the term "champagne" has long been used without complex and for all kinds of bubbly wines. In the late 1930s, Stalin had a mass-produced "Soviet champagne" created with the aim of making it available to everyone.
After the fall of the USSR, this 'Soviet champagne' became a brand synonymous with low-end sparkling wine, but still popular on special occasions. A state of affairs that has never delighted the Champagne producers.
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