Published: 10 Jan 2013 09:30 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 10 Jan 2013 09:30 GMT+01:00
Would champagne by any other name taste as good? For French producers, the answer is a resounding "non" -- especially when the drink is to be served at the US presidential inaugural luncheon.
Champagne producers in France, who are very protective of the singular nature of their product, were not necessarily upset that California-made bubbly is to be served at lunch after President Barack Obama's January 21st swearing-in.
But the official menu from organizers -- which includes steamed lobster, hickory grilled bison, apple pie and "Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvee Champagne, California" -- released on Wednesday definitely raised hackles.
"Champagne only comes from Champagne," Sam Heitner, the director of the US Champagne Bureau, told AFP, referring to the French region outside Paris where the festive fizzy drink is produced.
The name may seem a trifling matter, but Europeans are striving to protect the names of regional and traditional foods originating from specific regions, such as French champagne and Parmesan cheese made in Parma, Italy.
The United States and the European Union in 2006 signed a deal banning US producers from using the word "champagne" on their labels -- but the law was not retroactive, so producers like Korbel can still use the French term.
However, they must specify where it is made -- "California Champagne" or "New York Champagne," according to Heitner.
Later in the day, a spokesman for the inaugural organizing committee seemingly put an end to the bubbling crisis.
"The Champagne Lobby should have a glass of their own product and relax," said Matt House, spokesman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
"We are proud to be serving American champagne at the inauguration, and its location of origin will be appropriately displayed on the label, and the menu in accordance with the law, and international treaties," he told AFP.
"The menu will say 'California Champagne'," said House.
Yannick Noah believes that none of the current crop of French tennis players are capable of matching his exploit in winning the French Open 30 years ago. READ () »
IMF chief Christine Lagarde's future was at stake Friday as French prosecutors grilled her for a second day to decide if she should be charged over a state payout to a disgraced tycoon when she was finance minister. READ () »
A French anti-racism association is launching a mobile application it hopes will help eradicate racist graffiti by enabling users to take photos of offensive tags, geo-locate them and get them removed. READ () »
When it comes to fighting off the invasion of English words the French Resistance has had mixed fortunes over the years. Nevertheless the fight goes on. With the help of the Ministry of Culture here's a list of the latest English terms that French authorities want deported. READ () »
The streets of Paris are getting a reputation for being unsafe for tourists and this is a threat to business for the great brand names of French fashion, a top body representing the luxury industry warned on Friday. READ () »
Rights watchdog Amnesty International has filed its end of year report on French President François Hollande's record on tackling human rights issues. Its conclusion was: Could do better. READ () »
The dangerous craze of ‘train surfing', which has long been popular in Russia, came to France this week and ended in tragic circumstances. A young man who was reportedly riding the roof of a Paris Metro was killed when the train entered a tunnel. READ () »
The purchase of the famous upmarket French department store Printemps by investors from Qatar needs to be investigated by authorities for possible corruption, money laundering and tax fraud, unions demanded this week. READ () »
The proposal was labelled by critics as another example of France's Socialist government attacking the richest. But after a u-turn announced on Friday the plan to limit executive pay in the private sector will not now see the light of day. READ () »
It could easily be the script of a grisly horror movie. Police arrested a man in Nice this week, suspected of chopping up his 95-year-old grandmother. According to sources the suspect admitted to having eaten part of the body. READ () »