France to resume champagne exports to Russia reveals expert
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France’s champagne industry group will resume exports to Russia on Wednesday despite a Russian law forcing foreign champagne producers to add a “sparkling wine” reference to the back of their bottles, local media reported on Saturday. The Interprofessional Champagne Wines Committee (CIVC) had asked its producers to boycott Russia following the introduction of the law last July. The name “Champagne” has protected status in more than 120 countries, which reserve its use for sparkling wine from France’s Champagne region.
Confirming a report by industry magazine Terre de Vins, Agence France Presse said the committee’s leadership had decided to scrap the boycott believing they had made their point to Russian authorities and no longer wanted to harm their clients.
The director of the Interprofessional Committee for Champagne Wine (CIVC), Charles Goemaere, explained it was “important” to resume shipments.
Speaking to Euronews, Mr Goemaere said: “It’s important for us to be able to restart the shipments to Russia.
“So, that’s number one. Number two is to discuss and negotiate a good solution that preserves our right to use the name.”
The French Government had warned that it could seek redress through the World Trade Organisation.
It comes after the top European Union court-backed French champagne makers on Thursday who had argued that their protection under EU law should extend far beyond banning rival sparkling wine producers from putting the word “champagne” on their bottles.
The champagne makers’ association (CIVC) is seeking to prohibit a chain of tapas bars in Spain from using “champanillo”, Spanish for “little champagne”, on signs and on social media.
The commercial court of Barcelona rejected the CIVC’s claims since the Champanillo sign was not intended to designate an alcoholic beverage, but rather catering premises where champagne is not sold, and so products other than those protected and targeting a different market.
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The CIVC appealed to Barcelona’s provincial court.
That court sought guidance from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on whether protected designations of origin (PDO), such as champagne, covered services as well as products.
The CJEU said they did cover services and were designed to offer a guarantee of quality due to geographical provenance and to prevent third parties from seeking to profit from the reputation such products had acquired.
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A key part in assessing if a disputed term or sign infringes a PDO was whether it evoked a link between the two.
The EU court said this was established if use of a name created a sufficiently clear and direct link in the mind of an average European consumer who is “reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect”.
The EU judges said it was for the provincial court in Barcelona to make a definitive ruling in the case, bearing in mind the EU court’s clarifications.
The champagne industry group is also contesting a new Russian law that forces foreign producers to add a “sparkling wine” reference to their bottles, while makers of Russian “shampanskoye” may continue to use that term alone.
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