Obama inauguration “Champagne” angers French

10th January, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

The Champagne Bureau in Washington has attacked plans to serve Californian “Champagne” at President Barack Obama’s inauguration lunch on 21 January.

Obama

Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne, California, will be served with dessert at the lunch for 200 guests in the Capitol Building following Obama’s swearing-in.

Sam Heitner, director of the Champagne Bureau, has hit out at the decision.

“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’,” Heitner told congressional newspaper The Hill.

“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.”

Despite Heitner’s protests, the wine is labelled in accordance with US law.

While using the name “Champagne” to describe sparkling wines that are not from the French region is banned by most countries, American law is more flexible.

Korbel Natural Russian River Valley "Champagne"

Korbel Natural Russian River Valley “Champagne”

It prohibits the term for newer sparkling wines but allows it for those produced before 2006, on the condition that their origin is featured in the name.

Heitner told The Hill that rather than seeking to denigrate Californian sparkling wine, he wanted to ensure that American consumers were not being misled.

It is the eighth time Russian River Valley fizz Korbel Natural has been served at a presidential inauguration; a tradition that began in 1985 with Ronald Regan.

For the first time in history, two wines from New York will be served at the Obama lunch – a Finger Lakes Riesling and a Merlot from Long Island.

Tierce 2010 dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes, a collaboration from Anthony Road Winery, Fox Run Vineyards and Red Newt Cellars, will be served with the starter: steamed lobster with New England clam chowder.

Meanwhile, Bedell Cellars 2009 Merlot from the North Fork of Long Island, will be served with the main course: hickory-grilled bison.

“This is a major breakthrough for New York wines,” said Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.

6 Responses to “Obama inauguration “Champagne” angers French”

  1. Martin Cody says:

    I completely agree with the Champagne Bureau. Does Spain call their sparkling wines Champagne? Does Italy? No, Cava and Prosecco, respectively, as long as they meet the production method requirements as in Champagne. It’s unfortunate we cannot respect the rules. Equally unfortunate is many will now incorrectly believe they’re sipping Champagne when they are not. There are many fabulous producers of “sparkling wine” in California and rarely will you see them market it as Champagne. Korbel it would seem is preying on the obvious marketing cache of “champagne” over “sparkling wine” for commercial benefit.

    Martin Cody
    President
    Cellar Angels,LLC
    http://www.cellarangels.com

    • David says:

      @Martin also be aware that many pinot noir, cabernet s., and merlot grape varietals are grown IN SPAIN and used to make Cava.

      Champagne is an English word and has been so for centuries; it’s obscene to me that speech be curtailed for commercial purposes. I also completely reject the French lobby’s insistence on using the term “sparkling wine”. It’s one thing to trademark the name Champagne; to force a producer to use another term entirely is beyond the pale.

      The French should focus less on lobbyists and lawyers and more on making good products. It’s not as if producers like Korbel are making poor products that diminish the value of the word champagne.

  2. Ross Keerslake says:

    Huh, it’s like piracy of Champagne? Film and music piracy is already cracked down on….why can’t we have the Champagne police and lock up these culprits!

  3. Sidney Wells says:

    I’m sure the Champaigne commission can wipe away their tears with Le Kleenex.

  4. Giovanni, Turin - Italy says:

    Dear Martin,
    to be more precise, the Italian equivalent of Champagne is called Spumante “Metodo Classico” (like French Methode Champenoise). The main region of production of Spumante Metodo Classico are Franciacorta DOCG, Trento DOC and Altalanga DOCG.

    Prosecco is produced with a different technique called “Metodo Martinotti-Charmat” (Charmat process) where the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in stainless steel tanks or steel vessels. To produce Prosecco we use a local grape variety called “glera” whereas in Franciacorta, Trentino and Altalanga we use mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with other varieties.

  5. Robert Cope says:

    Perhaps sad to say, as in best wines, France is falling behind California. In blind taste tests I expect Korbel to do particularly well — maybe another, as in, 1976-year embarrassment for French pride?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Account Manager

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Marylebone Sales Manager

Philglas & Swiggot
Marylebone, London, UK

Area Sales Manager

Bon Coeur Fine Wines
North England, UK

Procurement Assistant – Wine

Adnams PLC
Southwold, UK

Account Manager Central London

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Brand Ambassador

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Marketing Assistant

Hatch Mansfield
Ascot, Berkshire, UK

Marketing Manager

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Regional Sales Manager – Scotland

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Sales Manager – London On-Trade

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Customer Service & Sales Support Executive

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Market Insight Analyst

Conviviality PLC
London, UK

Technical Manager

Enotria&Coe
Park Royal, London, GB

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

Click to view more

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Click to view more