French group fumes over new Russian champagne law

Tensions between Moscow and French winemakers bubbled over on Monday, when France's champagne industry group called on its members to halt all shipments of the fizzy beverage to Russia over a new law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, that forces foreign champagne producers to add the words "sparkling wine" to their labels.

The law requires all non-Russian producers of sparkling wine to describe their product as such on the back of every bottle, but Russian makers of "shampanskoye" may continue to use that term alone.

In response, France's Champagne Wine Professionals Committee said all shipments to Russia should be halted for the time being and said the name "champagne", which refers to the region in France the drink comes from, had legal protection in 120 countries.

Charles Goemaere is the committee's director general.

GOEMAERE: "It's tragic for the producers who are losing the legitimate right to use this name... It's also tragic for our business with Russia because, at least temporarily, Champagne wines will no longer be able to be exported to Russia because they no longer conform with the rules."

The Champagne Committee also called on French and European Union diplomats to get the law changed.

Meanwhile, Moet Hennessy, the maker of Dom Perignon, said on Sunday that it would comply with the law and begin adding "sparkling wine" to the back of bottles destined for Russia.

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