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The third Battle of Champagne? Louis Roederer takes legal action against London winery

Champagne giant Louis Roederer are taking legal action against a small London winery due to the use of “Crystal” on its bottles of pet nat pink wine. 

The move has been taken against Renegade Urban Winery, run by Warwick Smith, who since 2018 have been selling a £28 bottle of Crystal Pet Nat Pink wine, which was named after customer Crystal Lai, who also appears on a tag and bottle label.Renegade said the wine is produced in a Nat Fizz style with a single fermentation, and finished in the bottle with Croatian grapes supplied from Broni, Lombardy for its 2021 vintage. It is a wild ferment, with no yeast additions, and 100% whole bunch pressed with stainless steel fermentation pre-bottling.

But now Louis Roederer have objected to the name of the product, alleging it infringes on its trademark of its £300 Cristal Champagne brand.

Despite the different spelling, the letter to the Walthamstow urban winery said it must immediately cease production and sale of all the products using the Crystal name. It stated that the only different between the two products was the letter Y rather than I.

Describing the situation to the Mail as “the third battle of Champagne”, Smith said he was confused by the letter, especially considering the size of his operation, and described the legal notice as “ridiculous”.

He said that the firm didn’t have the money to fight the legal action, although he said that he was “going to have to get some legal advice”.

He said: “We are tiny, I mean, tiny. In terms of Cristal, I think they sell 300-400,000 bottles a year, you know, and our maximum production capacity across our entire range is about 70,000 bottles.

“They said that we have infringed their trademark, even though the spelling’s different. The wine colours are different. Ours is not champagne, theirs is. The grapes are different, the labels different. The spelling and pronunciation is different. It’s bizarre.”

Cristal is the flagship brand of Louis Roederer, created in 1876 for the Tsar of Russia, Alexander II.

It became popular in the 1990s and 2000s with hip hop musicians, dubbed ‘Crissy’, and was regularly signposted in lyrics by the biggest selling artists such as the Jay-Z, the Notorious B.I.G, and Tupac Shakur even created a cocktail using the Champagne.

A spokesperson from Louis Roederer told db that it couldn’t comment on the story while the situation was with its legal team.

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