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French to Fume at Obama Inaugural Lunch

Posted: Friday, 11 January 2013 14:40

French to Fume at Obama Inaugural Lunch

Jan 11: The Champagne producers will once again be fuming when the Korbel Natural 'Special Inaugural Cuvée’ sparkling wine will be offered as the dessert Champagne at the traditional inaugural lunch on January 21, at the Capitol Hill after the swearing-in ceremony, with the Champagne Bureau in Washington urging the White House not to call the bubbly as Champagne

Korbel Special cuvee sparkling wine NV ($14 for a regular Brut) had adorned the luncheon table as a dessert wine at the similar lunch on January 21, 2009. The lunch was attended by 237 guests that included former Presidents Bush, Carter, Clinton and Bush, as well as Supreme Court judges, members of the Congress, senior Cabinet officials and several political and government honchos.

Korbel Natural 'Special Inaugural Cuvée’, the off-dry bubbly from the Russian River Valley was paired with the dessert, apple cinnamon sponge cake and sweet cream glace. Korbel has been making sparkling wine for 120 years (and still defiantly calling it Champagne!), using the traditional method of second fermentation in the bottle. It has been popped at the previous presidential inaugurations also and was the preferred bubbly during Kennedy's years at the White House.

It is the eighth time that the Russian River Valley fizz Korbel Natural is being served at a presidential inauguration; a tradition that began in 1985 with Ronald Regan, according to db.

Once again, it will be served with dessert at the lunch for over 200 guests in the Capitol Building following the swearing-in ceremony of President Obama on January 21. The French and especially the Champagne Bureau in Washington are not amused, with Sam Heitner, the director reportedly hitting 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’,” says Heitner.“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,” he adds. Heitner also says that the idea is not to deprecate the American sparkling wine but he wanted to ensure that American consumers were not being misled

The Americans however claim that the wine is labeled according to the US laws. While using the name “Champagne” to describe sparkling wines that are not from the French region is banned by most countries, Americans have been defiant. The laws prohibit the term for newer sparkling wines but allow it for those produced before 2006, on the condition that their origin is mentioned on the label, according to the article.

Korbel uses the term Champagne utilizing a loophole in U.S. law called 'semi-generic' which Wikipedia defines as referring to a 'specific type of wine designation. The majority of these were originally based on the names of well-known European wine-producing regions. Consumers didn't recognize grape varieties at that time and New World producers used the familiar names to suggest the style of wine they were offering for sale. U.S. regulations require that semi-generic names, for example, California Champagne, may be used on a wine label only if there appears next to such name the appellation of "the actual place of origin" in order to prevent any possible consumer confusion.

Champagne follows a strict policing policy throughout the world to keep the Geographic typicity intact. Champagne Indage was forced to remove the word Champagne from its company name by them. Sula started its sparkling wine by calling it Champagne but quickly reverted to Brut. Similarly Zampa wanted to call its bubbly, Zampagne but sense of wisdom prevailed on them and they called it Zampa Brut.

Champagne or Korbel California Champagne or Korbel sparkling - we will raise a glass for President Obama and while saying Cheers, would hope for better Indo-US relations and a better understanding of the problems that we have had thrusted upon us by our neighbours.

For an earlier article, click

California Wines for Obama Inaugural Lunch

Tags: Champagne, Korbel Natural 'Special Inaugural Cuvée’, Champagne Bureau, Korbel Special cuvee sparkling wine NV, Russian River Valley, Korbel, presidential inaugurations, President Obama, Sam Heitner,California Champagne, semi-generic, Champagne Indage, Sula, Brut, Zampa, Zampagne, Zampa Brut, President Obama


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