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Opinion

The “AOC” or the power of bubbles

Cristina D’Agostino

By Cristina D’Agostino09 juillet 2021

Gruyère cheese, champagne, Cassis cream, the controlled labels of origin are regularly at the heart of disputes that ignite bilateral discussions between countries, or even worldwide when the WTO is called upon to make a decision. This was the case again on July 5 with the unexpected signing by Russian President Vladimir Putin of a new national law forcing producers of French champagne brands to indicate on the back label of the bottle the words " sparkling wine " and no longer " champagne ", in Cyrillic. The irony is that the word "champanskoïé" can be used on the back of the bottle of sparkling wines produced in the former USSR.

Although its production technique is very different from the champagne method - continuous flow foaming - "Sovetskoye Shampanskoye" (less expensive than the first Russian champagne produced by Prince Golitsyn in 1900) dates back to 1937 and has become an important part of Russian drinking habits. Moreover, Russia ranks only 15th among the countries importing French champagne, for a total of 35 million euros, compared to 500 million euros for the United States*.

Conclusion of the "bubbles affair"? The 244 million bottles of French champagne exported worldwide with a total turnover of 4.2 billion euros are of course an important counterweight. But it is clear that the trend towards protectionism has increased in recent years and AOC products will become powerful arguments in the future. The exact reason for this sudden decision from the Kremlin is unclear.

The only information published on the website of the TASS agency is that Russian sparkling wine production between January and June 2021 was 37.5% lower than in the same period in 2020 and amounted to 3.72 million decalitres, according to the National Union of Consumer Rights Protection. Total Russian wine production fell by 10.2% to 27 million decalitres from January to June 2021. Is this a way of encouraging the production of Russian sparkling wines to take off again?

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