France’s prestigious Champagne region has formed an alliance with Australia’s winemakers to advocate for protection of wine place names around the world.
- A delegation that protects the Champagne name has visited Australia for the first time
- The famous region is part of the Wine Regions Alliance which protects winemaking regions’ brands
- Barossa hopes to continue building its international reputation as one of the world’s best wine regions
For the first time a delegation from Comité Champagne is in Australia to share how it controls and protects the name that is synonymous with quality and prestige, and how Australian regions can do the same.
The committee was created 82 years ago to enhance the quality of Champagne wines and protect and promote the Champagne name, including through legal challenges.
Its director general Charles Goemaere said only sparkling wines produced in the specific Champagne region of France, 100 miles north-east of Paris, can claim the name.
“It’s a very small region, it represents only 3 per cent of the overall planted region of France, but it’s a great community with 21,000 wine growers and about 350 champagne houses,” Mr Goemaere said.
“Those wines must follow a number of rules set by our organisation that ensures that when [consumers] get a wine named Champagne, not only does it come from a specific region but it also has a number of specific characteristics and quality.”
What’s in a name?
Mr Goemaere said protecting and defending the Champagne name was vital as it was an “important portion of the trust” consumers put into the wine.
“This is the very first element that allows consumers to know what they will get in their glass when they pour a glass of Champagne,” he said.
Comité Champagne is also a founding member of the Wine Origins Alliance, which includes wine regions from around the world — from Napa Valley in the US, to France’s Bordeaux district, and Italy’s Chianti Classico.
The French delegation is in South Australia this week to meet with alliance members from the Barossa and McLaren Vale.
“[They] are colleagues from the Wine Regions Alliance, which is an alliance that we have created almost 20 years ago to get a better protection of wine place names worldwide,” Mr Goemaere said.
Opportunity for Barossa
Barossa Australia chief executive Scott Hazeldine said the region had spent decades building up a global reputation for quality and wanted to protect that.
“The industry is so much stronger when we recognise our uniqueness and our differences, and I think both of us are just after a fair playing field for everybody to do business,” Mr Hazeldine said.
“The Barossa name counts for so much — it’s our interaction with the consumer, it’s a level of trust that they put in us as well.
“So really, we don’t want that degraded in any way at all and [we’re] really keen to protect it at all costs.”
He said the delegation had a crucial opportunity to share knowledge and experiences around how the Champagne district had gone about protecting its identity.
“I think consumers are interrogating the products more and more — from place names, to what’s in them, to how they’re made as well,” Mr Hazeldine said.
“But the name and the region that it’s sourced from is absolutely crucial in that piece.”
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