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

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Fizzical battle – Day Three – Round 3 : CIVC try to KO Champagne Jayne

Graeme Lofts reports from the Federal Court in Melbourne where Jayne Powell 'Champagne Jayne' spent a long day in the witness box.

'Champagne Jayne fights back 
During the third day of the Federal Court hearing in Melbourne in which sole trader and champagne expert Rachel Jayne Powell, aka Champagne Jayne has been taken on by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the protector of the exclusivity of the Champagne brand,  Ms Powell denied that she is misleading Australian consumers into believing that Australian sparkling wines were in fact Champagnes.
During cross examination of Ms Powell by the CIVC’s barrister a small selection of video clips of champagne tasting functions presented by her in the name of Champagne Jayne was shown. In each case presented, the function commenced with a blind tasting of an Australian sparkling wine. The CIVC’s view is that in doing this Ms Powell is promoting wines other than Champagne as well as causing those attending the functions to confuse Australian sparkling wine with Champagne.
Ms Powell argued that she opens some events with a blind tasting of an Australian sparkling before presenting a range of champagnes to maintain her credibility by showing that Champagnes are a unique and special category of sparkling wines and to highlight the different qualities of sparkling wines produced in different regions of the world.  Ms Powell vehemently denied that by doing this she caused confusion between Champagne and other sparkling wines.  Further video evidence presented later by Ms Powell’s barrister showed her clearly distinguishing between Champagne and other sparkling wines at such events.
Images on Champagne Jayne’s website and social media pages of bottles of champagne, Australian sparkling wine and sparkling wines from other French or European regions were shown by the CIVC’s barrister, who questioned how those viewing the images would know which were Champagne and which were not. In response Ms Powell pointed out that those that were Champagne had the word ‘Champagne’ clearly printed on the bottle label. Those that were not champagne did not have the word ‘Champagne’ on the label and in most cases had the region or country of origin printed on the label, for example; Yarra Valley, Tasmania, Product of England. She saw no reason for confusion.
Ms Powell was also accused of promoting one particular Tasmanian sparkling wine by using it on several occasions in a blind tasting as a segue into the tasting and discussion of Champagnes. Ms Powell denied that she was promoting that particular wine and was merely using it to demonstrate that there is more to a sparkling wine than its label. She believes that characteristics of sparkling wines are products of terroir and the skill and methods of the winemaker. And of course, anyone who knows Champagne Jayne knows that she believes that there is no better sparkling wine than Champagne.
Champagne Jayne’s opponents suggested that that many Australians, including many of those who attend functions at which she presents and who follow her on social media believe that all sparkling wines were Champagne and would be easily confused when she presented an Australian sparkling wine in addition to several different Champagnes. Ms Powell disputed this, pointing out that most, if not all of those who pay to attend her Champagne events, visit her website and follow her on social media are very much aware that the label ‘Champagne’ only refers to sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region. She takes delight in knowing that the few who are not aware of the exclusivity of Champagne to the Champagne region of France will become aware of it as a result of her presentations and posts.
Following the allegation that Ms Powell’s use of the word ‘ambassador’ on her website suggests that she is an official representative of the Champagne brand, she explained that she had already done her best to remove the word from the site and undertook to remove any remaining instances of its use.
The hearing moves into its last day tomorrow, with final submissions from lawyers of the CIVC and Ms Powell. A decision is expected early in the New Year.'
My grateful thanks again to Graeme for his excellent report. 

The report on Day One is here and Day Two here


1 comment:

Colin Spencer said...

Raises important questions on points of law: Can CIVCs action be seen as anti-competitive behaviour, taking such extreme measures to eliminate comparison of Champagne products to any other sparkling wine? (Remember, they are both sparkling wine).

As the Champagne region only produces half of the Champagne branded sparkling wines exported from France, and the balance is made in neighboring 'non-Champagne' regions, have the French unwittingly made the Champagne brand a generic term?