The Champagne of White Zinfandels?

Site reader Supertunaman sent in this label shot (about the quality of most UFO sighting photos) with the comment, “LOLOL!”

What’s so funny? If Miller is the Champagne of Beers, perhaps this is the Champagne of White Zinfandels?

Actually, since a 2005 bilateral accord between the US and the EU, the term Champagne cannot be used on new labels of American sparkling wine. So this Barefoot wine (now owned by E. & J. Gallo) must have been approved sometime prior to that as existing labels at that time were grandfathered. Also of note: the last time I checked, there were zero hectares of Zinfandel vines in Champagne.

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19 Responses to “The Champagne of White Zinfandels?”

  1. Well if grandfathering is the reason they must have one hell of a lot of labels in some warehouse, because I’ve seen ‘Champagne’on Barefoot’s label as recently as last week. The term is always modified (as above); the stuff is not called simply Champagne. Korbel does the same thing–their labels read ‘California Champagne.’

  2. Twitter Comment

    @drvino The Champagne of White Zinfandels? [link to post] > is that an oxymoron?:)

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  3. Hey, I recognize that picture!

    Yes, this was taken with my Blackberry at the grocery store. If I don’t keep the quality at the lowest level, then it tends to fail halfway through uploading.

    See also:

  4. Twitter Comment

    [link to post] – I’m loling!

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  5. Hi Bill –

    Yes, the label is grandfathered, not the inventory. So yes, Korbel, Barefoot and quite a few others can still make and market “California Champagne,” perhaps in perpetuity!

    In the label above, they made the “California” lighter and in a smaller font, as you can see better here.

    Everyone –

    Maybe I should have made this a poll? At any rate, tell us your thoughts on the subject of “California Champagne.”

  6. Even better if you look at the finer print under “Champagne” you see they make this with Charmat method making it even further from having anything to do with Chapagne. Mmmmhh tank fermented white zinfandel…kinda like champagne right?

  7. I think most people are aware that Champagne is a region and therefore not applicable to all sparkling wines. I see that Barefoot actually has the California Sparkling designation on the label (although less prominent than the Champagne). So maybe they’re trying to wean their consumers off of that designation… maybe not. However, if drinking sparkling white zinfandel is what it takes to get some consumers to try wine… then I’m all for it.

  8. Gallo – they know how to make a buck. All they have to do is fool some of the people some of the time.

  9. Twitter Comment

    RT @drvino The Champagne of White Zinfandels? [link to post] <— tee hee!

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  10. You gotta love the Gallos. Really, these guys have no shame. They promote the notion of terroir with “Gallo of Sonoma,” and at the same time they put “Champagne” on dreck like this.

    So–somebody tell me how Free Markets self-correct abuses like this.

  11. Those who pay $8 for a “California Champagne” may assume that it is not from the Champagne region (or from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier).

    But in a way that seems like Coke’s recent defense of VitaminWater: “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.”

  12. Dave – don’t buy it. Problem solved.

  13. Twitter Comment

    The Champagne of White Zinfandels? Dr. Vino finds a hilarious mislabeled wine bottle [link to post]

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  14. I think I might need to change my name to “average wine consumer”, because to some degree I feel I somewhat present that perspective. I would not have associated the Barefoot white zin champagne with the region of Champagne. I feel the marketers have done their job well here and champagne has become a term that is used more to represent the type of wine being a bubbly as opposed to representing the region it came from. Kind of like how even though I reach for a Puff’s tissue I call it “kleenex.”

  15. Twitter Comment

    Check out @drvino ‘s piece on labeling sparkling wines- [link to post] Let him know your thoughts on the matter!

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  16. Marc: Karen’s response says it all:

    champagne has become a term that is used more to represent the type of wine being a bubbly as opposed to representing the region it came from. Kind of like how even though I reach for a Puff’s tissue I call it “kleenex.”

  17. Karen’s comment brings us full circle back to the discussion on whether or not Roederer went overboard protecting the Cristal trademark. Protect it or lose it. It is not unreasonable for interested parties to pursue litigation in order to protect a name.

  18. In 2010, I just think this is wrong. The joy of discovering wine is the fact that each wine is unique and from a unique place, that cannot be replicated. Just like people. Why not celebrate this by keeping each place and subsequent wine special? It’s like a bunch of people running around calling themselves Oprah. There is only 1, and it should be kept that way.

  19. This article was just referenced by the Champagne Bureau Facebook page as proof that “…over 50% of the sparkling wine sold in the U.S. is improperly labeled as “Champagne?”

    They cite Gomberg numbers also as proof:
    These are the Gomberg numbers cited by the Wine Institute…
    Total California Sparkling Wine/Champagne to U.S. Market
    2010 4,818.7 thousands of cases

    Total Foreign Sparkling Wine / Champagne to U.S. Market
    2010 3,769.8 thousands of cases

    a lot of noise for 3% of the US wine market.


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