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F1: Fizz but no champagne for podium finishers in Australia

Bryan Edwards

It's a basic tenet of Formula One that the podium celebration takes place in a shower of champagne. Well..... not exactly. After 15 years, the deal for Mumm to sponsor the sport has ended. And the new sponsor is half a name and not a champagne.

We all know that in Abu Dhabi the podium celebration is showered in a non-alcoholic, fizzy, rose water concoction.

And we know that in MotoGP, the celebrations (fittingly given the number of Spanish riders) is in Cava, despite the persistance of MotoGP's commentators that champagne is being sprayed.

But Formula One, the bastion of all that's pinnicular (*), celebrates in Champagne, with a capital C. Right?

Well, not any more. Champagne house Moët et Chandon has come back to Formula One to reactivate one of the longest relationships in the sport - from 1966 to 1999. It's part of the Moët, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton combine more usually called "LVMH."

But rather than the classic Moët & Chandon brand, we are being presented with the revitalised (having been absorbed in the early 1800s) Chandon brand. And Chandon is not champagne.

It's nice.. indeed, some of it is dangerously close to the classic Moët & Chandon taste. And the name is sufficiently well known to create market caché. But it's not Champagne. It's not even French.

Domain Chandon was created in the Nappa Valley and started producing sparkling white wine. It's not bad but it's not great, either. But in 1986, a second Domain Chandon was created, this time in Victoria, not far from Melbourne. At least the wine didn't have far to travel for its first official outing.

The Australian Chandon is good. It's very good, for a mass market, high volume fizz. It more or less matches original Moët and, for many, exceeds many of the other mass market brands.

It is this Australian version which is being heavily promoted across South East Asia, featured at prestige (and not quite so prestige) events as sponsor.

The word "Champagne" is a reserved word under EU and other laws.

So, F1 can celebrate in a fizzy wine made by a subsidiary of a French champagne house, but they can't call it champagne.

Confused? Just have another glass. But read the label first to be sure you are getting the Aussie one.

*It's not a real word. We made it up as a pretend adjective to relate to the noun pinnacle.