Chambord Showdown: Castle vs. Liqueur in Trademark War

Plus, Dwyane Wade launches rosé, Warriors ball out with Moët, and Walmart enters retail wine wars
Chambord Showdown: Castle vs. Liqueur in Trademark War
Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of trademark litigation! (iStockPhoto)
Jun 14, 2018

Despite its moats and turrets, the Loire Valley's iconic 16th-century Château de Chambord was built for royal vacations, not defense. But now the loyal footsoldiers who serve the UNESCO World Heritage Site are suiting up for battle against an unlikely foe: Jack Daniel's parent company Brown-Forman. The Kentucky-based spirits conglomerate has a Chambord of its own—the black raspberry liqueur in the little purple orbs—and now the two sides are jousting in the High Court of Paris over who gets to call their booze "Chambord."

“Brown-Forman owns the Chambord trademark in, among other places, France and the E.U., used in connection with liqueurs,” the company said in a statement provided to Unfiltered. This is a problem because Chambord the Castle wants to sell a new wine under its own name. "This is of great concern to us, as we believe such use would violate our trademark rights," wrote Brown-Forman.

The contretemps began in June 2015, when vassals of Chambord began planting a vineyard on the property to 10 acres of Pinot Noir and 5 acres of cuttings from pre-phylloxera Romorantin, a traditional Loire white variety thought to have been brought to the valley by King François I, who commissioned construction of Chambord. An additional 20 acres of Gamay and Pinot Blanc were added in following years. The first harvest is expected in the 2019 vintage, the 500th anniversary of the start of Chambord's construction.

"Chambord has existed since 1519, so it seems more than fair that we should have the right to use our own and legitimate name to sell our products," Jean d'Haussonville, director general of Chambord, argued to Unfiltered via email. "It seems even fairer since Brown-Forman is causing a risk of confusion in the public's mind as to who and where the liqueur is being produced. The liqueur is absolutely not produced at nor by Chambord." (The Chambord production facility is, however, in the Loire, just a swift gallop away.)

Brown-Forman indicated they "remain hopeful" that the matter can be settled amicably, writing that they've been offering to meet with château reps since September 2017. "As soon as the [Domaine National de Chambord] makes known available dates, the meeting will be set up.” Perhaps yet, the houses of Chambord will together hoist the Chalice of Peace and Kir Royale.

Dwyane Wade Takes His Talents to Rosé

Basketballer-vintner Dwyane Wade parted ways with the Cleveland Cavaliers (and his BBFF LeBron James) earlier this year to head back to South Beach and rejoin his OG team, the Miami Heat. Now, DWade has announced his latest wine project, which is well-suited to the Sunshine State: rosé.

Wade Cellars
Perfect for taking out on the banana boat

The 2017 Three by Wade California Rosé from Wade Cellars, the joint venture between Wade and Napa Valley winemaker Jayson Pahlmeyer, has just been released on the Wade Cellars website, where it's billed as a "lip-smacking, party-inducing, poolside-sipping" pour. It joins teammates Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa red blend.

We'll have more info on the wine soon, but what we do know is that Wade is getting increasingly involved in the wine and food world. He also recently kicked off a YouTube series with his personal chef, Richard Ingraham, called Wade's Kitchen Convos, in which the pair talk cooking, drinking and more. For anyone who questions whether the All-Star guard is just as serious about his wine game, here he is blind-tasting three reds to determine which is his own:

UC Davis' Latest Crop of Wine Spectator Scholarship Recipients

On June 5, the University of California at Davis' Department of Viticulture and Enology held a scholarship reception at the department's end-of-year barbecue. Pictured are the latest group of undergraduates and graduates to be awarded scholarships from the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation for the next academic year.

Karen Block
Tomorrow's star winemakers

Over the past 38 years, the foundation has provided grants and scholarships to a variety of wine and culinary programs. The foundation has raised more than $20 million, including $3.6 million for U.C. Davis scholarships. Another recipient, the Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State University, opened in May 2018.

Warriors Ball Out with Moët After NBA Championship Win, Again

After sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 4-0 finals, California's Golden State Warriors became back-to-back NBA champs last Friday, so the Oakland-based team already knew the drill for celebrating a championship season: copious locker-room Champagne showers. Three hundred bottles of Moët & Chandon—including 150 light-up magnums of Moët Imperial Brut and 150 limited-edition magnums of Moët Nectar Imperial Rosé designed by fashion label Public School—doused Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the rest of the goggle-wearing winners for a pretty sweet (and probably sticky) celebration.

"We are thrilled to be a part of such a monumental evening after the Golden State Warriors' victory," Renaud Butel, vice president of Moët & Chandon USA told Unfiltered via email. "Moët & Chandon is all about elevating moments of celebration, and the Warriors perfectly showcased just how life’s most memorable moments must be with Moët & Chandon."

On Tuesday, the Warriors marched through the streets of Oakland for their victory parade, spraying the crowd with bottles of Luc Belaire Rare Gold, Luxe and Rosé (according to gossip site TMZ). But though Durant bested the Cavaliers on the court, it appears that members of the opposing team—who know their way around a bottle—might need to teach the MVP a thing or two about wine: Durant seemed to have some trouble popping his own bubbly.

Vintners and Veterans Pair over Napa Wine

Duckhorn Wine Company and the Yountville Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to bring a little bit of Napa into the lives of residents of the Veterans Home in Yountville, Calif.

Duckhorn Wine Company
Duckhorn IT project coordinator and Navy vet Ed Doitteau (left) and director of human resources Marianne Healer, whose father served in World War II

The newly relaunched Vintners for Veterans program pairs varietals and vintages with the vets—more than 800—every Sunday during lunch service, with the aim to inspire people to become more involved with residents. “It’s a very humbling experience having a veteran thanking you,” Alex Ryan, Duckhorn CEO and president, told Unfiltered.

The kickoff luncheon on June 3 featured Duckhorn's Decoy Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, Migration Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot, cousin to Wine Spectator's 2017 Wine of the Year. Duckhorn has been coordinating donations with other local wineries in the hopes of keeping the wine flowing year-round.

“Our little industry in one little way can give back,” Ryan said, emphasizing that this initiative is not just a “Duckhorn thing,” but rather a “Napa Valley thing."

Walmart Enters Retail Wine Wars with a Touch of Whimsy

Costco's getting company in the "extreme value retailer with a surprisingly legit house wine brand" game. Last month, Walmart rolled out its new Winemakers Selection line, with 10 bottles from California, France and Italy.

The Languedoc rosé channels Lisa Frank.

Walmart senior buyer Nichole Simpson told Unfiltered that there was no skimping on the wine source—or the label art. Each design is inspired by each wine’s origin; the 2017 Languedoc rosé label, so far the bestseller for obvious reasons, depicts a “dreamlike” night sky that represents the evening hours when the grapes were harvested for this particular Grenache rosé, she said.

“It’s really about the experience … bringing that label to life and showing our customer where it’s from,” Simpson said. And maybe or maybe not also paying homage to Unfiltered's favorite Trapper Keeper.

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