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by Curtis Phillips | January 10, 2013 | 3:30 PM

Oh dear, oh dear! Once again, the French have their knickers in a twist over the choice of wine at a US Presidential Inauguration.

People might be forgiven for thinking that this was an issue of merit. Sadly, it appears to be nothing more than a little grandstanding and good old-fashioned protectionism. Of course a good portion the Internet's brainless echo-chamber of vinorati have parroted the Champagne Bureau's talking points without questioning the motives about the umbrage.

I think wine should clearly state from whence it comes. I also think an English descriptor better suits almost any US wine. I even prefer the term "Sparking Wine" over the "California Champagne" moniker.

However, and even though I like France, French food, wine, and am of French descent myself, I don't really care what the French think about the Inaugural gustatorial choices. It's not their party. Personally, I'm offended that one of their lobbying organizations had the temerity to presume to pontificate on the matter in the first place. I would have thought that the French would have better manners than that.

I *might* care if the French were less hypocritical about the issue. However, every time we sign a new trade agreement with the French, the ink isn't dry on the détente before they whine about the agreement that they just signed.

Case in point, Korbel has been producing their product as "Champagne" or "California Champagne" since 1882, this makes them nearly as old as several of the more famous Champagne houses. Their use of the term "California Champagne" has been grandfathered into every single trade agreement we've had with the French at least since the 1980s (the current version went into effect in 2006). Protests that Korbel is somehow breaking a law are both incorrect and disingenuous. Their use of the phase conforms to current US regulations as well as with our current trade agreements with the French and the EU.

I rather admire Gary Heck for his refusal to change his branding. Had it been my winery, I would have followed Schramsberg's example and switched to calling my bubbly "Sparkling Wine" even if my winery had been grandfathered in to allow the use of "California Champagne" on the label.

All of this makes me wonder if the Champagne Bureau really just has a grudge against the fact that every president since Nixon has been toasted with an American bubbly.
 

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