Bruno Paillard has said that he does not intend to re-think his decision to resign in protest as the head of a commission set up to protect the Champagne name around the world.
News broke last week that Bruno Paillard has quit as president of the Champagne bureau’s ‘appellation protection committee’ after 17 years, following a row with Champagne Palmer.
Paillard, a leading figure in the region as chairman and CEO of Lanson-BCC and owner of Champagne Bruno Paillard, was quoted in French newspaper l’Union as saying that co-operative-owned Palmer had betrayed Champagne by signing a US distribution agreement with TRU Estates & Vineyards, a division of Constellation Brands.
For Palmer, the deal represents an opportunity to harness the power of Constellation’s distribution network in a fast-growing market for Champagne.
But, Constellation has continued to produce sparkling wine in the US labelled locally as ‘Champagne’ – a practice that Paillard and others have worked for years to end.
While neither Palmer nor Constellation have broken any laws, Paillard said it was an ‘unwritten rule’ that Champagne houses should not do deals with US companies owning American ‘Champagne’ brands, such as Constellation, Korbel and E&J Gallo.
‘I won’t re-think my decision,’ he told Decanter.com.
‘As for the US, it’s now (with Russia) the last country in the world which doesn’t respect GIs [geographical indications].’
Some US groups, such as Napa Valley Vintners, have embraced the GI concept for Napa wines.
A trade deal signed by the EU and US in 2006 also prohibited new US sparkling wines from being referred to as ‘Champagne’. However, brands that already existed prior to the deal were allowed to continue using the Champagne name.
Paillard said that he had hoped for more progress on the Champagne issue during 2018 or 2019, but thought that change would still come in the longer term.
‘Consumers have the right not to be misled or manipulated,’ he said.
Announcing the deal with Constellation’s TRU Estates, Champagne Palmer MD Rémi Vervier said he looked forward ‘to bringing the quality and prestige of the Champagne Palmer experience to US wine lovers’.
Editing by Chris Mercer