When President Obama is officially inaugurated on January 21, wine labeled ‘Champagne’ will be served with dessert at lunch for 200 guests in the Capitol Building. That the ‘Champagne’ to be served isn't the genuine article has annoyed the French.
According to website, The Drinks Business, as an accompaniment to the pudding course at President Obama’s inauguration shindig, a Californian wine titled Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne will be quaffed by diners at the 200 strong sitting following Barack Obama having been sworn in to the office of President on January 21.
The Champagne Bureau, a Washington lobby group for the French Champagne industry, is fit to pop at the decision, says the LA Times. The director of The Champagne Bureau, Sam Heitner, criticised the decision, telling congressional newspaper The Hill,
“US law clearly states that the full name of the wine label must include where it comes from. Under the law, the label for this wine would state ‘California Champagne’. While we do not support this practice, it is US law — and we would urge the inaugural committee to follow that law and not state the sparkling wine being served is Champagne. Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”
The difficulty faced by The Champagne Bureau is that whilst most countries prohibit the word “Champagne” being used to describe a sparkling wine which doesn’t originate from the French Champagne region, in the north east of France near the Belgian border, United States labelling laws takes a more flexible approach. If a sparkling wine has been in production in the US before 2006, its label can contain the word “Champagne” with the proviso that the place of origin of the wine is also stated. For sparkling wines where production started after 2006, use of the word “Champagne” is a no-no.
Champagne labelling isn’t the only ‘wine war’ to have broken out between the United States and France recently. As reported in the Washington Post, there is an ongoing dispute involving French wine-growers from France’s Bordeaux region protesting some American wineries using the word ‘Château’ to describe their vintage.