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Swiss village battles to name its wine Champagne

Published:  23 July, 2008

SWITZERLAND: Winemakers from the Swiss village of Champagne have lost a legal battle to attach the town's name to locally-produced wine.

France has fiercely resisted the labelling of any wine as Champagne unless it is produced in the Champagne region of France.

The Swiss winemakers lost their case at the European Court of Justice on this technicality.

But village authorities are vowing to continue their fight to use the Champagne label.

The Swiss winemakers insist on continuing the ancient custom of naming their wine after their village, which they say has been called Champagne - with variations on the spelling - since the earliest documents available in 885 AD.

They said wine had been made in the village since the 10th Century and that France didn't start producing its Champagne until the end of the 17th Century.

The vintners took their cause to the Luxembourg court after a Government deal in 1999 banned them from using the name because it is reserved for the variety made in France.

Albert Banderet, leader of the winemakers, told a Swiss radio station that he believes international law allows for exceptions to the rule in the case of identical names.