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Russia may ban French wine imports in retaliation to sanctions

Russia's government has raised the possibility of banning imports of French wine in retaliation to economic sanctions, in the same week that officials confiscated 3,000 litres of imported wine because it failed to meet regulations.

The lower house of Russia’s parliament, the Duma (pictured), is considering imposing a ban on the imports of French wine to Russia.

The proposal is set to be discussed before the end of the year and is due to the French government’s decision to suspend the transfer of Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia – as part of wider sanctions by the European Union and US following the political crisis in Ukraine.

An official spokerperson for the Russian government declined to comment on the Duma’s plans. But, the spokesperson did say that the government may support a ban, and would be more likely to do so if there is a further deterioration in relations between Russia and France.

Several Russian wine importers have criticised the Duma for considering a ban on French wine imports, fearing they could lose milions of dollars in sales.

French wines hold the biggest share in the segment of premium wines in the Russian wine market and French wines account for almost a fifth of wine imported to Russia annually, according to Leonid Popovich, president of the Union of Winegrowers and Winemakers of Russia.

Spokespeople for Bordeaux and Burgundy wine trade bodies, CIVB and BIVB, told Decanter.com that they were not aware of wineries and negociants finding it more difficult to export wine to Russia so far in 2014.

News of a potential ban on French imports came as Russia’s consumer safety watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, said it had suspended 3,000 litres of imported wine from sale, because it either failed quality tests or didn’t come with the right papers.

It also suspended a further 3,500 litres of domestic wine from sale for the same reasons.

Officials would not be specific about the identity of the imported wine, but most of it comes from Eastern Europe, and predominantly Georgia and Bulgaria, according to spokesperson for the consumer safety agency.

Written by Chris Mercer & Eugene Gerden

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