France, officially known as the “French Republic”, is a transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories and is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany in the northeast; Switzerland, Monaco and Italy in the east; Andorra and Spain in the south. The country is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, which is famed for its fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. France retains its centuries-long status as a global centre of art, science, and philosophy and hosts the fifth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It performs well in the international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy and human development. The country is also renowned for its wines and sophisticated cuisine. Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings, Lyon’s Roman Theater and the vast Palace of Versailles attest to its rich history. France has bagged two Geographical Indication (GI) Tags namely ‘Champagne’ and ‘Cognac’.

Champagne is a manufactured product; whose application for a GI tag was filed by Comite Interprofessional du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) on 29th September, 2008 and the product was certified on 4th October, 2010. The Application Details of ‘Champagne’ are mentioned below-

Application Details

Application Number140
Geographical IndicationsChampagne
Applicant NameComite Interprofessional du Vin de Champagne (CIVC)
Applicant Address5, Rue Henry Martin, BP 135, 51204, Epernay, France.
Date of Filing29/09/2008
Geographical AreaFrance
Priority CountryFrance
Journal Number34
Availability Date31/05/2010
Certificate Number133
Certificate Date04/10/2010
Registration Valid Upto28/09/2028

CHAMPAGNE describes a naturally sparkling wine produced in a defined region of the Champagne district of France by a process of double fermentation of grapes grown in the Champagne district. Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC)  is a public service body, created by an Act of the French Parliament, and is charged with the responsibility for all aspects of the trade in CHAMPAGNE from production to marketing. It deals with everything which has to do with the production of CHAMPAGNE wine under the various aspects of law, economics, technology, and institutional communication. CIVC has official power to make regulations for the CHAMPAGNE trade which have the force of law. Functions of CIVC also include the study of both export and home markets, preparation and maintenance of statistics, the legal defence of the geographical indication CHAMPAGNE wherever it has been usurped and publicity and information as well as public relations in France and abroad. CIVC attaches high significance to the exclusivity of the name CHAMPAGNE and its protection worldwide. CIVC is represented by CHAMPAGNE producers and CHAMPAGNE companies equally whether at the decision making level or administrative level. One of the key missions of CIVC is to preserve the exclusive nature of the geographical indication CHAMPAGNE and promote its qualities to the widest possible audience. Among the missions assigned to it by the law, CIVC must defend the geographical indication CHAMPAGNE. CIVC has been working for more than 60 years to protect and promote the geographical indication CHAMPAGNE used in respect of a wine that is produced in the champagne region for centuries.

The region in which the Champagne vineyards are found is about 100 miles east of Paris around Rheims and Epernay, where there is chalky, flinty soil and the climate is subject to extreme variations of heat and cold. The kind of grapes, its production coupled with natural factors including climatic conditions are the key factors in determining the quality of CHAMPAGNE. Three grape varieties, each accounting for around a third of planted vineyards, are used for production of CHAMPAGNE – two dark grape varieties – Pinot Noir (38%) & Petit Meunier (34%) and a white grape variety- Chardonnay (28%). Consequently, CHAMPAGNE is emerging as a major player in the global campaign for sustainable development based on agricultural production systems that are both economically and ecologically viable.

There are four main bodies involved in inspecting the CHAMPAGNE wines, at the various stages in their elaboration, which are namely, The Institut National de I’ Origine et de la Qualite’ (INAO), The Comite Interprofessional du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), The Direction Generale des Douanes et des Droits Indirects (DGDDI), and The Direction Generale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Repression de Fraudes (DGCCRF). CHAMPAGNE is, therefore, a geographical indication for a sparkling and unique wine produced in the Champagne region of France and by French law and international treaty, the name CHAMPAGNE can be used only by wine-makers of that product from that region because allowing producers from other regions to use the name might lead to a drop in quality and value to those original producers.

Recently, there has been a dispute between Russia and France over CHAMPAGNE. Russian authorities are challenging that with a new law put forward requires French Champagne producers to add to words ‘sparkling wine’ on the back of the label if they want to sell their bottles in Russia. To this Champagne producers stated that they are proud of their name and brand and refused to use any reference to ‘sparkling wine’. Also the French Champagne industry asked its members to halt shipments to Russia for now, stating that the name ‘Champagne’ is protected in over 120 countries. Thus, the dispute is expected to ultimately reach the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a particular decision.

Cognac is also a manufactured product, whose application for a GI tag was filed by Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) on 28th December 2010 and the product was certified on 18th August, 2011. The Application Details of ‘Cognac’ are mentioned below-

Application Details

Application Number230
Geographical IndicationsCognac
Applicant NameBureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC)
Applicant Address23, Allees du Champ de Mars,16100, Cognac, France.
Date of Filing28/12/2010
Geographical AreaFrance
Priority CountryFrance
Journal Number39
Availability Date25/03/2011
Certificate Number156
Certificate Date18/08/2011
Registration Valid Upto27/12/2030

COGNAC describes a high quality grape spirit. It is produced in the Cognac region in France from the distillation of white wines, following the regulations that delimit and define terrains, grape varieties, vineyard conduct, wine growing and distillation techniques, storage, ageing and marketing rules, as well as all other control methods. The Cognac region enjoys its own microclimate due to the unique climate created by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and has rich, diverse soil that is favourable to the cultivation of vines used to produce Charentes wines. The climate of the Cognac region is characterized as being ‘softly tempered’, with ample amounts of sunlight and sufficient rain, and an average temperature of 13.5 degree Celsius. The soil of the Cognac region is extremely diverse, ranging from open country chalky soils, to plains with red clay earth, to green valleys. The quality of the soil for producing COGNAC is determined by reference to a number of factors, including the amount of chalk present in the soil, the hardness of the chalk, and the amount of clay mixed in with the chalk.

One of the most important objectives of protection of COGNAC as a geographical indication is to give consumers genuine information about the origin and the quality of the COGNAC they consume. Accordingly, from the outset, BNIC and the French authorities have strictly controlled the COGNAC AOC, to ensure that consumers are not misled or deceived. Owing to the sustained efforts at protecting and promoting COGNAC by the BNIC and its members, ranging from scholarship and public relations activities to tourism opportunities and welcome receptions, COGNAC today has a strong image internationally. The name COGNAC has been registered as a geographical indication or otherwise recognized as a geographical indication pursuant to trade agreements in numerous countries around the world.

For the last decade, owners of cognac distilleries have seen their sales more than double to the United States, making their spirit one of the France’s fastest-growing major exports. But in January 2021, US imposed a 25% tariff on additional European goods, including Cognac and Brandy from France and Germany, as a part of a long-running dispute. The US Trade Representative (USTR) announced its decision on 30th December, 2020 to adjust tariffs on certain products from the European Union (EU). Cognac, which is to be taxed along with other grape-based spirits from France and Germany, is a collateral victim of a dispute between Washington and Europe over subsidies given to their commercial plane makers, Boeing and Airbus.

GI Tags of France are-

Manufactured Products:

  1. Champagne [here]
  2. Cognac [here]
About Tanya Sharma 52 Articles
Good day everyone!!! I am a student at the School of Law, UPES, Dehradun, pursuing B.A.,LL.B. (honors) specialization in Energy Law. Passionate about gaining knowledge in Legal field, I like to write articles and research papers in the field of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Apart from academics, I like to travel, dance and read novels.

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