Issue # One - February 2013

Controversy over “Champagne” for Obama’s inauguration

La revue du vin de France (RVF) says that the French are “irritated” by the “Champagne” selected to toast the inauguration of Barack Obama. On the menu of the luncheon to celebrate the occasion, the sparkling wine is listed as “Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvee Champagne, California.” Technically, RVF writes, the wording should be “California Champagne” or “Champagne of California” in a single block without a comma. The difference might appear to be slight but goes to the heart of the sensitive issue of appellations protected by France and the European Union. RVF indicates that the agreement between the EU and the United States signed in 2006 prohibits U.S. vintners from using the word “Champagne.” However, the rule does not apply retroactively, and producers such as Korbel are allowed to continue labeling their products as “Champagne” provided that the name appears in direct conjunction with “California.”

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