French irritated by Obama's inaugural 'champagne'

An industry group says bubbly planned for the inauguration lunch is mislabeled, but US law disagrees.

By Jason Notte Jan 11, 2013 1:23PM

Image: Couple toasting champagne glasses at restaurant table (Chris Ryan/OJO Images/Getty Images)You know, French champagne lobbyists, you make it really difficult not to crack jokes about snooty waiters and cartoon skunks when you quibble over trifles like the bubbly being served at President Barack Obama's inaugural lunch.


Just to illustrate how the Champagne Bureau spends its time when not sniffing at tourists who mispronounce coq au vin or chasing a female cat that's accidentally had white paint spilled down its back, the industry group scolded the inaugural committee for recklessly throwing around the word "champagne" on its luncheon menu.


The committee decided to celebrate the president's swearing in with a version of Korbel Natural Russian River Valley Champagne, which the Champagne Bureau says is decidedly not champagne.


"We would urge the inaugural committee to follow that law and not state the sparkling wine being served is champagne, as they did in today's release," Sam Heitner, the director of the Champagne Bureau, told The Hill. "Champagne only comes from Champagne, France."


Except when it doesn't. Many countries around the world restrict the use of "champagne" to sparkling wine from the Champagne region, but U.S. law is a bit different. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has spelled out when wineries can use certain designations and just how they can use them. The use of the term "champagne" is protected under the "semi-generic" law 27 CFR 4.24, which dictates that the word can be applied only to sparkling wines produced before 2006, as long as their point of origin is clearly spelled out on the label. This is where the Champagne Bureau and the inaugural committee agree to disagree.


"U.S. law clearly states that the full name of the wine label must include where it comes from," Heitner told The Hill. "Under the law, the label for this wine would state 'California Champagne.'"


Perhaps some portion of the label was lost in translation, as the inaugural committee's press release indicates that the sparkling wine being served with dessert is "Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne, California." Though the "California" portion seems to clearly indicate the wine's home state, Heitner insists it's still a violation of U.S. law.


This isn't Brown-Forman (BF.A) subsidiary Korbel's first go-round with the Champagne lobby. Founded in 1882 by two Czechoslovakian brothers, Korbel has used "Champagne" to describe its sparkling wine for more than a century and is often grandfathered into Champagne designation laws by using the "California Champagne" label. It's been served at six inaugurations, including president Obama's last in 2009.


For now, France itself is sitting out this bubbly battle, as it is far too preoccupied with its transition back to a socialist government and the tax-driven departure of actor Gerard Depardieu to notice. People involved with planning the inauguration seem not to care what the Champagne Bureau has to say about their wine selection either.


"The Champagne Lobby should have a glass of their own product and relax," said Matt House, a spokesman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.


More on Money Now

457Comments
Jan 11, 2013 3:42PM
avatar

U read correctly!!!!  Russia has NO Champagne REGION!!!!!  The Brothers were mislabelling from the get go.  Over a hundred years ago.  It was never corrected.  ONLY FRANCE has a CHAMPAGNE REGION!!! The is the ONLY PLACE in the world where CHAMPAGNE comes from.  People are un-educated to that fact, even wine makers.  They think anything-wine- with bubbles is CHAMPAGNE!!!! IF IT DIDN'T COME FROM THE CHAMPAGNE REGION OF FRANCE, IT IS SPARKLING WINE!!!  PERIOD   Chanelle Du Bose

Jan 11, 2013 3:42PM
avatar
Boones Farm Strawberry Hill for everyone!!!!!
Jan 11, 2013 3:42PM
avatar
Having travelled the world extensively in my work life. I have had the opportunity to sample a great many of the worlds beers, wines and champagne. Before I knew better, I frequently purchased a bottle of Dom Perignon in the airport duty free liquor stores. France, ya got nothing. Oh, they are tasty enough, but certainly no better than Korbels better offerings. I drink very little now, in my senior years, When I drink Bubbly, it is always Korbel
Jan 11, 2013 3:42PM
avatar
Who cares what the French want. They have been irrelevant for centuries. On the other hand, they should just toss back a few 40's and call it good.
Jan 11, 2013 3:40PM
avatar
What's next?  Rioting in the streets?
Jan 11, 2013 3:40PM
Jan 11, 2013 3:39PM
avatar

Memo

From: Inagural Committee

To:  French Champagne Bureau 

Re: Champagne or not champagne

 

Soufflez-le hors de votre rectum.

Jan 11, 2013 3:37PM
avatar
Had this happened under Bush msn would be saying France wanted to nuke us over this. Pure puff nonsense.
Jan 11, 2013 3:35PM
avatar
Most Americans are ignorant, uneducated and low-class.  Including those running the Alcohol and Tobacco....  True Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France.  The same is true for Cognac.  There has never been a Champage region of California, therefore, it in not true champagne but sparkling wine!!!! I don' t give a damn how long Korbel has been labelling it!!!! Chanelle Du Bose
Jan 11, 2013 3:33PM
avatar
Bilge water is to good for that trash.Just a waste of champagne.
Jan 11, 2013 3:31PM
avatar

Someone had to tell him that Mad Dog 20/20 wasn't champagne.  Eeesh.

Jan 11, 2013 3:30PM
avatar
I'm pretty sure most if not all French wine vineyards were destroyed during WWII. My father told me after the war that grapes were transplanted from NY state.
Jan 11, 2013 3:29PM
avatar
The stupid and not-so-clever are out today. Happy hour a bit too early? Sparkling wine is often called champagne. And you would know that it was French if you knew anything about the geography of two world wars. Nothing political about having a drink with some fizz.
Jan 11, 2013 3:29PM
avatar
Who CARES - am so done with this nonsense,,,,there are no jobs no future in the USA.
Jan 11, 2013 3:29PM
avatar
SURPRISED HE DIDNT GET IT FROM HAWAII.
Jan 11, 2013 3:29PM
Jan 11, 2013 3:28PM
avatar
Hey, they call it as they see it. If it's sparkling wine, that's what it should be called. Caling a wine Champagne when it's not from France is just ignorant.
Jan 11, 2013 3:25PM
avatar
you know the worst part of the inauguration?      the part where obama is sworn back in.  it is sad to hear him say he will uphold the constitution  when he tries everyday to strip us of our freedoms and rights..  so who cares about the wine or champagne..
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?

MARKET UPDATE

[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market capped the trading week with losses across the major averages. The S&P 500 fell 0.5% to surrender its weekly gain, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.7%) and Russell 2000 (-0.9%) underperformed. The two indices posted respective losses of 0.8% and 0.6% for the week.

Equity indices were pressured from the get-go after several heavyweights disappointed the market with their earnings and/or guidance, which led to some broader profit-taking. After ... More

MSN MONEY'S