French champagne industry group fumes over new Russian champagne law By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Bottles of champagne are displayed December 21, 2016 at a Nicolas French wine specialist store in Paris, France. Picture taken December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS/MOSCOW (Reuters) -France’s champagne industry group on Monday blasted a new Russian law forcing foreign champagne producers to add a “sparkling wine” reference to their bottles and called for champagne exports to Russia to be halted.

The law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, requires all foreign producers of sparkling wine to describe their product as such on the label on the back of the bottle — though not on the front — while makers of Russian “shampanskoye” may continue to use that term alone.

The French champagne industry group called on its members to halt all shipments to Russia for the time being and said the name “champagne”, which refers to the region in France the drink comes from, had legal protection in 120 countries.

“The Champagne Committee deplores the fact that this legislation does not ensure that Russian consumers have clear and transparent information about the origins and characteristics of wine,” group co-presidents Maxime Toubart and Jean-Marie Barillere said in a statement.

French Trade Minister Franck Riester said he was tracking the new Russian law closely, in contact with the wine industry and France’s European partners.

“We will unfailingly support our producers and French excellence,” he said on Twitter.

Moet Hennessy, the LVMH-owned French maker of Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon champagnes, said on Sunday it would begin adding the designation “sparkling wine” to the back of bottles destined for Russia to comply with the law.

LVMH shares were down around 0.2% on Monday afternoon, underperforming the Paris bourse, which was up 0.34%.

Shares in Russian sparkling wine maker Abrau-Durso were up more than 3% after rising as much 7.77% in early trade.

Abrau-Durso president Pavel Titov told Radio France Internationale on Saturday his firm does not have sparkling wines that would be called “champagne” in its portfolio and said he hoped the issue would be resolved in favor of global norms and standards.

“It is very important to protect the Russian wines on our market. But the legislation must be reasonable and not contradict common sense … I have no doubts that the real champagne is made in the Champagne region of France,” he said.

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