Veuve Clicquote gets defensive about “its” yellow.

You can’t just use any old yellow for your label, you know!

The Daily Digest of The Drinks Business on 30 January 2014 details a possible “threat of legal action” against yet another tiny producer of sparkling wine that has sailed too close to the sacred yellow of Veuve Clicquot, it seems. Ciro Picariello, a tiny family producer of sparkling wine in Italy’s Campania region seems to have come to the attention of the direction of Veuve Clicquot because of the colour they’ve chosen for their label, the colour being protected in the EU, Australia and the US. However, given this producer only makes about 3,500 bottles per year, compared with the VC production which is closer to 20,000,000 bottles! Honestly, LVMH cannot be afraid that Ciro Picariello is about to cut into their market share. I suspect it is more a case of making sure that no-one, but no-one gets an idea that they can copy the colour of the label on the widow’s bubbles.

To my mind, this is an excellent opportunity for Ciro Picariello to get some advertising mileage and media coverage out of this experience. Exactly the same thing happened to Tasmanian winery La Provence back in the late 80’s and they certainly benefited from the national and international trade media coverage of the court case. French authorities claimed that the owner, Stuart Bryce, was trying to pass his tiny quantities of pinot off as French wine. Many asked at the time why Stuart pursued the challenge as far as the courts when he knew he had no show of defeating the French authorities. Why wouldn’t you, when you know that everyone is watching to see what would happen? La Provence won their claim that there was no attempt to deceive consumers, but agreed to change the name to Providence regardless, boldly announced the same to the waiting press. A case of living happily ever after, well known in the wine world as the minnow that took on the big boys of the wine world and won.

Oh, and they’re also well known for their award-winning top-of-the-range Pinot Noir, The Miguet, named after the Frenchman who established the vineyard in the late 1950s. It is only released in outstanding years.

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