Last week, Belgian customs authorities seized and destroyed 3,200 bottles of Californian Andre sparkling wine.
Andre, produced by Gallo, is one of several American sparkling wine brands that are still labeled ‘California Champagne’. The shipment also contained other bottles labeled ‘sparkling wine’, which were not destroyed.
EU law states that the name Champagne refers only to wines produced in the French appellation of Champagne. Other wines labeled as ‘Champagne’ can be seized as counterfeit.
The seizure and destruction of the bottles was applauded by the regional wine trade body for Champagne, the CIVC.
‘Since the passage and implementation of more rigorous legislation, customs agents and border patrols throughout Europe have seized and destroyed thousands of bottles in the last four years illegally bearing the Champagne name, including product from the United States, Argentina, Russia, Armenia, Brazil and Ethiopia,’ said CIVC President Bruno Paillard.
Susan Hensley, vice president of public relations for E. & J. Gallo, said the US company ‘respects and adheres to EU regulations and does not sell product labeled California Champagne in the EU’.
Hensley added that the wine was owned by an unnamed party and was eventually bound for cruise ships when it passed through customs at the Belgian port of Anvers.
In recent years, the CIVC and similar organizations representing the regions of Sherry, Port and others have lobbied hard – with the support of American wine regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma – to extend wine place name protection in America and around the world.
Written by Tim Teichgraeber