The correct answer is "Champagne is a kind of sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region in France." But that's not what the head winemaker from Korbel said on the San Francisco Fox affiliate, KTVU, on the morning news on Saturday.
The U.S. government has fought Europe for years for Korbel to have the right to keep calling its sparkling wine "Champagne," so it's not surprising that Paul Ahvenainen says his company's product is something it's not.
What is surprising is that Korbel director of winemaking Paul Ahvenainen pissed all over J, Schramsberg, Gloria Ferrer, Domaine Chandon, Domaine Carneros, Roederer Estate, and every other maker of quality bubbly who follows international law and actually calls their product "sparkling wine."
Ahvenanien says that Champagne is defined by secondary fermentation in the bottle. Not true, but not outrageous.
Then he says,
Sparkling wine, on the other hand, can either be done in huge tanks and then filtered into bottles or even just artificially carbonated.
This is a lie, and it's done for malicious purposes. "Sparkling wine" is as generic a term as "white wine;" it could be Dom Perignon or Andre. Or Korbel. Ahvenanien is deliberately insulting California competitors like the ones I named above that are honest enough to correctly name their product.
As a media person, I call out KTVU for allowing this lie to go unquestioned. I know we give people the forum to state their views, accurate and inaccurate, but KTVU should have had one of its morning bubbleheads at least say, "But isn't Champagne a place in France?"
UPDATE: On Monday, KTVU had a representative of LVMH on the morning news, and he correctly defined Champagne and sparkling wine. He also brought a bottle of Domaine Chandon and said sparkling wine made by Champagne houses in California can have good quality and value. I wonder if this was a makeup broadcast?*
|Vote for the face of Champagne!|
Second update: Seth Box, who appeared Monday on KTVU to promote LVMH's bubblies, emailed me to say that appearance was booked more than a week in advance. So KTVU was being "Fair and Balanced" in the traditional Fox way: Liar gets 10 minutes, truth teller gets 3 minutes 2 days later. Well, better than nothing.