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New law forces Champagne to be relabelled as ‘sparkling wine’ in Russia

Moët Hennessy, the world’s biggest Champagne producer, has been forced to relabel its products as ‘sparkling wine’ in Russia in order to comply with a new rule signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

Latest: Champagne body criticises ‘scandalous’ Russia label law

The owner of Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon and Krug suspended deliveries to the country in order to make the change to the back labels of its Champagnes.

The move came after President Putin signed a new law on Friday, requiring all overseas producers of sparkling wine – including Champagne houses and growers – to label their bottles as ‘sparkling wine’ on the back with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, Russian producers of sparkling wine can still label their products simply as ‘shampanskoye’, the Russian word for Champagne.

In many parts of the world, including the EU and the UK, Champagne is a protected geographical indication that can only be used by the region’s producers.

However, this is not the case in Russia – or in the US, where established sparkling wine producers can still call their wines ‘Champagne’.

Last week, a German court ruled in favour of Champagne producers, in a long-running dispute over an ‘Champagne sorbet’ ice cream previously sold by Aldi in the country.

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Moët Hennessy confirmed to Reuters that the company had suspended Champagne deliveries to Russia in order to make the changes to back labels.

The company said: ‘The MH Champagne maisons have always respected the legislation in force wherever they operate, and will resume deliveries as quickly as possible once these adjustments are made.’

Meanwhile, shares in leading Russian sparkling wine producer Abrau-Durso moved up by more than 5% in early trading on Monday, following news of the move.

The new law also looks set to impact France’s Cognac producers: according to the IPKat website, they will be stopped from using the word ‘Cognac’ on their labels in Russia following a seven-year transition period – and the only ‘Cognac’ on sale in the country will then be Russian.

As well as its Champagne houses, Moët Hennessy – part of the LVMH luxury goods group – also owns Hennessy, the world’s best-selling Cognac. The company is yet to respond to a request for comment on the law change.

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