Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 18 December 2014

CIVC v Champagne Jayne: Day 4 – Fizzical battle paused

Despite the pressure and bullying by the CIVC Jayne remains loyal
'One of my favourite Champagnes – Louis Roederer'
Mildly ironic in view of this week's trial that Louis Roederer 
sponsors wine writer awards!

Graeme Lofts reports from Melbourne 
After three days of argument and aggressive cross-examination of Champagne Jayne by lawyers representing The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the opposing parties have agreed overnight to mediation during the first week of March next year in an attempt to reach a settlement. If a settlement is not reached, the case will resume in Melbourne’s Federal Court on 10th March 2015, so the Champagne Jayne case on hold.

The CIVChas been seeking to demonstrate that by using the business name Champagne Jayne, Rachel Jayne Powell has deceived her clients at her Champagne tastings and social media posts by referring to other sparkling wines, thereby tarnishing the Champagne brand.
Ms Powell has denied misleading her clients and presented evidence showing that she has always clearly distinguished between Champagne and sparkling wines from other regions of France and other parts of the world. She has argued that it is necessary to discuss and taste other sparkling wines in order to ensure that, while vigorously promoting the Champagne brand, she must also show it in the context of the diverse category of sparkling wines, in part to add to her credibility as a Champagne expert.
The accusation that Ms Powell has tarnished the Champagne brand as Champagne Jayne is somewhat difficult to understand given that she has been honoured with the title Dame Chevalier by the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, the official fraternity of the major champagne brands, authored an award winning book entitled ‘Great, Grand & Famous Champagnes: Behind the Bubbles’ and been named International Champagne Educator of the Year 2012 by Harper’s Magazine.
In a rather one-sided battle, the action of the CIVC, which has formidable financial resources, a large team of lawyers and well-known for litigation to protect the Champagne brand, has placed Ms Powell, a sole trader with a turnover believed to be less than $100,000 per year, in a precarious financial situation and could force her into bankruptcy. 
As part of the agreement to attempt to reach a settlement Ms Powell is forbidden from communicating with journalists and “other third parties” about the case and is unable to comment. 

Graeme's reflection on the case:
'On reflection, I am wondering why the CIVC has chosen to attack and destroy Jayne Powell’s reputation and business rather than take advantage of her knowledge of Champagne, her ability to educate wine consumers about Champagne and her impressive credentials. I have no doubt that as Champagne Jayne, Ms Powell has had a positive impact on the Champagne brand in both Australia and the UK. Why not work with her rather than against her? In this way both sides would be winners.'

Jim's comment:
I entirely agree with Graeme's measured reflection on this case. I cannot imagine that their apparently single-minded pursuit of Champagne Jayne has won the Champenois many friends. Instead I suspect that for many in the wine trade the CIVC and by extension all Champagne producers this pursuit has shown them as cold hearted bullies prepared to crush one of their friends and advocates. Whether this reprensible and thuggish behaviour has a reasonance outside the wine trade is another question.
I wonder who instigated this offer of mediation? Did Champagne (CIVC) blink I wonder? Did they decide that they hadn't landed a KO blow on Champagne Jayne and could lose the case? It is surely likely that if Jayne Powell had offered mediation the CIVC would have taken this as an admission of defeat.

Back in March 2014 the court had ordered mediation but it proved unsuccessful. I've no idea of what was offered but I suspect that the CIVC played hardball as they have through out this case. It would have been in Jayne's interest to find an honourable compromise. Hopefully the mediation in March 2015 will be meaningful and a solution will be found.

Many thanks once again to Graeme for his fine reporting on the case.



Robert McIntosh said...

I wonder if CIVC can supply list of (confusing) non-Champagne winery & brand investments by their members? #JayneGate

If anyone promoting Champagne is never supposed to taste or mention non-Champagne sparkling wines, then surely we should at least expect that no Champagne brand, or brand-owner, should be allowed to invest in non-Champagne sparkling wine brands either. That would only confuse the obviously gullible and unthinking consumers?

I wonder whether that's what they will discuss in their mediation?

Matt Dickinson said...

There may be an ulterior motive for the CIVC in bringing this case which we don't yet know about. It seems on the surface as you say entirely reprehensible, given the difference in resource between the two parties, but there may be some wider issue at stake. If so, we will no doubt find out in due course. In the meantime, it seems right to wish Jayne all the best with what must be difficult circumstances for her - but one thing I've learnt about France after living here for a while, is that nothing ever happens without a reason. Let's hope it's a good one in this case, it needs to be.