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US sparkling wine labelled Champagne destroyed

A shipment of more than 3,200 bottles of Andre sparkling wine made in California was seized and destroyed by Belgian customs authorities because the labels included the word Champagne. The wines, which were produced by E & J Gallo Winery and are legal to be sold in the US, bore labels referring to California Champagne and Andre Champagne Cellars. As a result, they fell foul of EU laws, which prohibit the use of Champagne on any wine produced outside France’s Champagne region.

The Office of Champagne, USA, said that, ‘Any US product that misuses the Champagne name and seeks to enter an export market that protects consumers from misleading labels is considered counterfeit. To avoid greater legal liabilities and legal procedures, the owner of the merchandise agreed to abandon it for immediate destruction.’ The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) then released a video of the wine being destroyed.

E & J Gallo issued a statement saying that the company, ‘respects and adheres to EU regulations and does not sell product labelled California Champagne in the EU. News released by the Office of Champagne, USA, misleads consumers by suggesting E & J Gallo Winery ignored regulations and intended to make counterfeit product available to European consumers.

‘The owner of the merchandise was in fact a third party based in the United States who sells product to cruise ships.’

This is the latest in a series of seizures. According to the CIVC, patrols in Europe have seized and destroyed over 14,000 bottles bearing the word Champagne in the last four years.