The “Office of Champagne, USA” is Now the “Champagne Bureau” – A New Name, But It’s the Same Old Message

I don’t know, this seems like a pretty easy one to make a call on. Do you think that sparkling wine producers in America should be allowed to use the term champagne even though their products don’t come from Champagne, France?

This issue got hashed out a half-decade ago in the favor of consumers, so terms like “American Champagne” are still allowed. But the French wine industry doesn’t like that one bit. So, they’re back with a new ad campagne. Except that this time they’re calling themselves the Champagne Bureau instead of the “Office of Champagne, USA.” (Which is sort of funny, since the old name was constructed to confuse the public, to make the public think that the French wine industry was somehow an arm of the U.S. Government, and they were, and are, complaining about the term  “American Champagne,” which is pretty straightforward…)

 Anyway, here it is, the new campaign they’re spending a bunch of money on:

Drink the Kool-Aid here, at the website of the French-backed trade group.

Oh well. Sadly, for the French, this train has left the station. Are they going to spend hundreds of millions of Euro over generations to change the way Americans think about wine? We’ll see…

Oh, and, for the record, here are the things covered under the rubric semi-generic:

“In the U.S., semi-generics are defined by law in 27 CFR 4.24. There are two types. The first type is names that can legally refer to any grape wine whatsoever. In practice, most have become associated with a given style, which is noted.

  • Burgundy – Generic red wine, for example Gallo‘s Hearty Burgundy. Named after French Burgundy.
  • Chablis – Generic white wine, named after Chablis.
  • Chianti – Generic red, named after Italy‘s Chianti.
  • Claret – Also generic red wine, named after Claret, the British term for French red Bordeaux.
  • Malaga – A sherry, named after Málaga in Spain.
  • Moselle – Generic sweet white, based on a German style produced in the Moselle River valley.
  • Rhine Wine (syn. Hock) – Generic sweet white, after Germany’s Rhine River. Hock is named after Hochheim.
  • Sauterne – White or pink, dry or sweet, named after Sauternesbut deliberately misspelt.
  • Haut Sauterne – Same as above.
  • Tokay – Generic white, named after Hungary‘s Tokaji.

“The second type of semi-generic names have restrictions on what kind of wine they can be. The legal restriction is listed first, followed by the original term.

  • AngelicaFortified wine of 18-24% alcohol, named after Los Angeles.
  • Champagne – Sparkling wine, named after France’s Champagne.
  • Marsala – Wine of 14-24% alcohol, named after Italy’s Marsala.
  • Madeira – Fortified wine of 18-24% alcohol, named after Portugal’s Madeira.
  • Port – Fortified wine, named after Portugal‘s Porto.
  • Sherry – Fortified wine of 17-24% alcohol, named after Spain‘s Sherry.

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