More Ruinart, Moët et Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Krug, Mercier, or even Dom Perignon for the wealthiest Russians? For the time being in any case, deliveries to Russia of the famous brands of champagne from the French group LVMH are suspended in response to the signing by President Vladimir Poutine of a new law reserving the name “champagne” for sparkling wines only. Russian, while real French champagne should take the appellation … “sparkling wine”.
“I can confirm to have received a letter of this type, and it is justified,” Leonid Rafailov, managing director of AST, one of the main distributors of wines and spirits in Russia, told AFP. According to him, the decision is “temporary”, the time to find the appropriate solution.
The case is nevertheless complex. Controlled designation of origin, the term “champagne” is indeed jealously defended by France, which recalls that the wine must come from a specific perimeter in the region of the same name to be entitled to use it.
Misuse of the name “champagne”
As such, French producers continue to fight tooth and nail to ensure that their rights are respected in the face of multiple attempts to use the name “champagne”.
As recently as July 1, after a legal battle that lasted several years (and which went as far as the European Court of Justice), the Munich court won their case by banning the German channel from Aldi supermarkets to sell sorbets at the “champagne“which do not taste like the famous French drink. Entered by French producers, who felt that the term”champagne“contravened the controlled designation of origin, the court considered that the sorbet did not taste of champagne but rather of a mixture of pear,” of sugar, citric acid and a touch of alcohol “, according to the judgment, transmitted to AFP.
Spanish “Champanillo” in the viewfinder
Another recent case. The name “champanillo” used by restaurants in Spain is certainly close to the protected designation “champagne“but the reference is not for all that illegal, said the Advocate General to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU, established in Luxembourg, which is not required to comply with this opinion, has still not been pronounced.
At the origin of the dispute: an action brought before the Spanish courts by the French producers of champagne, via the Interprofessional Wine Committee of champagne (CIVC) which defends their interests. This organization wants to ban the use of the term “champanillo” (“small champagne“in Spanish), widespread especially in Catalonia to qualify small catering establishments as” tapas bars “, recalls the CJEU in a press release.
In the context of the dispute, a Barcelona court on appeal decided to question the European Court on the scope of a PDO (protected designation of origin). The question was in essence the following: can service companies like a restaurant also be criticized for the misuse of a term referring to a protected product? Advocate General Giovanni Pitruzzella replied in the affirmative.
According to him, EU law “protects products with a designation of origin against any practice of commercial free-riding, whether it relates to goods or services”.
However, adds the lawyer, “in the present case, the suffix” illo “distinguishes, visually and phonetically, the term” champanillo “from the other terms compared”. “The Advocate General therefore excludes that the term” champanillo “constitutes a use of the PDO” Champagne “.