Protection of the Champagne name
The reputation and prestige of Champagne has long been a source of envy for other producers, spawning hundreds of imitations every year.
Champagne is a unique product born of the shared heritage of Wine Growers and Champagne Houses for whom defense of the Champagne name is vital. That is because only wines made from the grapes grown and harvested in Champagne and then produced under the strict regulations of the Champagne appellation can bear the Champagne name. This unique location – called terroir in French – is integral to the wines that are produced and that is why the Champagne community and quality wine producers worldwide call for the all wines that bear the Champagne name to only come from Champagne, France.
In the same way that a Napa wine comes only from Napa Valley, California, Champagne comes only from Champagne, France. This is the law of the land in Brazil, China, the EU, Mexico, Canada and the majority of the countries worldwide. The United States is one of the last countries in the world to not reserve the Champagne name exclusively for wines from Champagne.
As the world’s two largest economies and major wine producers, the United States and European Union are key players in the global wine trade. Both have truth-in-labeling laws that seek to properly inform consumers about the contents or ingredients of products, as well as strong trademark systems designed to protect brand names from illegal use by others. While most quality winemakers around the world do not misuse geographic indications, that is not the case in the United States.
The Champagne Bureau, USA remains committed to promoting and protecting the Champagne name worldwide and is working with U.S. consumers, trade, and negotiators to ensure that the Champagne name is protected in the United States and that all mislabeling of U.S. sparkling wine is permanently banned in the United States.
Champagne Only Comes From Champagne
Champagne is a unique winemaking region in France. Ninety miles northeast of Paris, the region’s climate, chalky soil, strict regulations and long history of winemaking combine to produce a sparkling wine that can only be produced in one place: Champagne.
There are many sparkling wines produced around the world but the Champagne name can only be used on a label if the grapes and the wines produced, under strict controls, in the French region that bears the name Champagne.
Winemaking regions around the world, including many in the U.S., rely on their place name (or Geographic Indication as it is referred to in Europe) to differentiate themselves from other winemaking regions.
For centuries, the growers and houses of Champagne have invested much time and money in educating consumers on the unique quality of the Champagne region and in the name Champagne. They have done so because they believe that the Champagne name is central to their community and should be protected as such.
Consumers Should Not Be Misled
When consumers buy a bottle of wine, they should be able to rely on the truthfulness of the bottle’s label. Location is particularly important to wine because the grapes and wines gain specific attributes due to the soil, air, water and weather conditions of the place in which they are grown.
The use of place names for wine - whether in labels, brands, promotional materials, advertisements or otherwise - should not mislead consumers as to the origin of the grapes in that wine.
If consumers cannot rely on a label to clearly tell them where their food or wine comes from, then they cannot know what they are buying. Truth-in-labeling is a matter of consumer protection.
We support U.S. consumers in their quest for truth-in-labeling. Recent polls show that a majority of U.S. consumers think location is the most important factor in their decision to purchase a particular wine. Clearly, this is already an important issue for European consumers and it is a great to see this increase in importance for US consumers.