Bordeaux first growth Château Mouton Rothschild is seeking €410,000 in damages from Domaine Mouton in Givry for “usurping” its name.
As reported by The Telegraph, Burgundy-based winemaker Laurent Mouton has been accused by the Baron Philippe de Rothschild group of displaying “a parasitic desire to ride on the great Mouton’s coat-tails.”
Domaine Mouton spans 15 hectares in Givry and produces some 60,000 bottles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay a year for €17.50 or less.
Château Mouton Rothschild meanwhile, comprises 84 hectares in Pauillac in the Médoc and counts Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Georges Braque, Juan Miró, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud among its label designers.
The 2011 vintage of its grand vin is currently selling in the UK for around £376 a bottle.
A letter from the château’s lawyers warned: “This unauthorised reproduction amounts to counterfeiting of pre-existing brands belonging to Rothschild companies.”
The letter also expressed concern that consumers would confuse the two and believe that Domaine Mouton was linked to Château Mouton Rothschild.
“I’m not going to change my name to please them. They are treating me like a common criminal.
“If we were in Bordeaux, I might just about understand their concern, but this is Burgundy and I sell my premier crus for €17.50,” Mouton told The Telegraph.
“Chateaux like this shouldn’t attack a domaine that has carried the Mouton name for four generations. I find this approach imperialist,” his father Gérard added.
Mouton junior has offered to change his labels to Domaine L Mouton but has yet to hear back from the Bordeaux first growth as to whether this action is sufficient.
Meaning “sheep” in French, when the Pauillac estate was bought in 1853 by Nathaniel de Rothschild it was known as Château Brane-Mouton. Sheep were thought to have once grazed on what are now the estate’s vineyards.
In February, the long-running battle between Bordeaux first growth Château Lafite and Côtes de Bordeaux producer Château Lafitte over the trademarking of the Lafitte name spread to China.