Why offended champagne: will French sparkling wine disappear from Russia

“We just made fun of France and its wine.”

The dead season in the information field was blown up by the news about the new Russian law on alcohol, which prohibits sparkling wine produced in the French province of Champagne from being called champagne. A controversial set of rules was born in the bowels of the Ministry of Finance. Here you can joke about the new region of France Igristoe and, for example, the Champagne region in Russia. The ministry realized that they overdid it a little and, in order to avoid an international scandal, decided to amend the law. But there are no legitimate ways to quickly solve the problem.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on July 9 that he was ready to personally deal with the issue of wine imports. The press service of the Ministry of Finance said that the department “will make efforts to avoid interruptions with imported wine products in Russia.” The question arises, why did the Ministry of Finance develop amendments, the implementation of which could lead to problems in the market?

Earlier, Russia adopted amendments to the law “On the regulation of alcoholic beverages.” They introduce the concepts of “Russian champagne” and “Russian cognac”, and importers now have to write “sparkling wine” instead of “champagne” on the bottle. The French were offended by Russian innovations, and they announced the suspension of the supply of sparkling wines made in the Champagne province. Regulators in France and the EU understand that if they continue to send us drinks, subject to our wonderful legislation, the whole world will look askance at them. They value their reputation and would rather turn off an effervescent valve than face it in the dirt.

The association of French champagne producers has called on its members, including the brands Bollinger, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot, to suspend shipments to Russia. Moet-Hennessy also announced the suspension of the shipment of sparkling wines to Russia. She later stated that she agreed to label her drinks imported into Russia as “sparkling wine” instead of “champagne” and would resume shipments after adjusting the label adjustment processes. Meanwhile, Rospatent stressed that Russia can use the concepts of “champagne” and “cognac” in relation to drinks produced in the country.

The Russian sparkling wine market – about 170 million liters per year. The market for the product produced in our country is 125 million liters per year. Starting from 2021, we will begin to lose in volumes: according to the law on winemaking, our wine should be made only from our raw materials, which are in short supply. According to experts’ forecasts, 25% less wine will be produced this year. About 45-50 million liters per year were imported into Russia. Of this volume, France accounted for about 6-8 million liters. In this volume, champagne products of the very rich LVMH group occupied 700-800 thousand liters per year. If translated into percentages, then 10-15% of the volume of French champagne was occupied by the sparkling wine of this holding.

A weak bill was prepared, which was passed without discussion with the industry, says Pavel Shapkin, head of the national consumer rights protection union. “I don’t think anyone was going to prohibit the French. The text of the document appeared in the State Duma database only at the time of its adoption in the second reading. All voted in favor without looking. Now, after the law has been signed, the Ministry of Finance is thinking about how to amend it. Although this law was born in the depths of this ministry, ”he said.

Meanwhile, the paradox lies in the fact that canceling the already published law simply will not work. In theory, a new document should appear, which will include all the edits. He must go through all the rounds of approvals and checks before being accepted. But the State Duma has finished its work and is preparing for new elections. Therefore, no one will do this. Now the Ministry of Finance is trying to explain to regulatory agencies, for example, customs, Rospotrebnadzor, that it is not necessary, roughly speaking, to pay attention to the federal law until the amendments are adopted.

The expert believes that the exodus of champagne from the domestic market will provoke a rise in prices: the sparkling drink will become scarce and its warehouse remains will be sold at an inflated price.

Vadim Drobiz, director of the Center for Research on Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets (TsIFRRA), called the actions of the Russian authorities “a mockery of the French and their wine.”

“We want to demand from the French that the counter-label says“ sparkling wine from Champagne ”. In fact, the drink is sparkling wine produced in the Champagne province of France. This is, let’s say, an insult to local winemakers and to the entire nation, ”he notes.

Drobiz called the incident “information psh”. He is convinced that albeit over time, the law will be corrected. In the meantime, the supervisory authorities of Russia will turn a blind eye to the general non-compliance with the new rules.

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 28577 dated July 12, 2021

Newspaper headline:
The Ministry of Finance went overboard with champagne



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