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

Saturday, 31 October 2015

La Levée de la Loire: organic producers Monday 2nd November in Paris

Les exposants – list of exhibitors in Paris (more details on Facebook):

Terres de Roa
Domaine du Coudray
Domaine Fouassier
Domaine Vincent Gaudry
Domaine de la Garrelière
Domaine de l’Oubliée
Domaine la Fontaine aux Fougères
Domaine Stéphane Guion
Domaine Bertrand Galbrun
Domaine Laurent Herlin
Château de Minières
Domaine du Petit Bondieu
Domaine Catherine et Pierre Breton
Domaine Clos des Quarterons
Domaine Sébastien David
Domaine du Bel Air
Domaine de la Lande
Le Sot de l’Ange
Domaine Château de la Roche en Loire
Domaine Paget
Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau
Domaine François Pinon
Domaine Grosbois/château de la cour
Domaine Lise et Bertrand Jousset
Domaine de l’Ouche Gaillard
Domaine Ludovic Chanson
Domaine Benoît Mérias
Domaine d’Orfeuilles
Domaine Montoray
Domaine Wilfried Rousse
Domaine de Noiré
Domaine Béatrice et Pascal Lambert
Domaine Jourdan-Pichard
Domaine de L’R
Domaine Fabrice Gasnier
Domaine de la Gaudetterie
Domaine de Veilloux
Domaine Baron
Domaine Courtault-Tardieux
Domaine Sauvète
Domaine de la Piffaudière
Domaine Philippe Tessier
Clos Roussely
Domaine la Paonnerie
Domaine des Cognettes
Domaine Michel Bedouet
Domaine Bonnet-Huteau
Domaine de la Bregeonnette
Domaine du Haut-Planty
Domaine de la Pépière
Domaine les Hautes-Noëlles
Domaine Landron-Chartier
Domaine du Closel
Domaine du Gué d’Orger
Domaine aux Moines
Domaine du Clos de l'Elu
Domaine Delesvaux
Domaine Cady
Château de la Roulerie
Domaine Patrick Baudouin
Domaine Damien Laureau
Château Tour Grise
Domaine Bruno Dubois
Domaine de Bablut
Ferme du Mont Benault
Domaine les Grandes Vignes
Domaine de Juchepie
Domaine La Folie Lucé
Château de Villeneuve
Clos Cristal
Château de Passavant
Domaine Clément Baraut
Le Pas Saint-Martin
Domaine Hervé Bossé
Domaine des Noades
Domaine Régnier-David
Château Yvonne
Domaine des Sablonnettes
Vins Bertin-Delatte
Domaine du Bouchot
Domaine les Maisons Rouges
Domaine de la Roche Bleue
Domaine Les Terres Blanches
Domaine de la Flomenchère

Friday, 30 October 2015

The 8th Digital Wine Communications Conference – Plodiv, Bulgaria


The 8th annual DWCC/ex-EWBC conference, which was held in Plodiv, has now finished.

It is an heroic feat to organize an annual conference each time in a new country and I guess that Bulgaria was amongst the most challenging of the eight editions so far. A challenge to get new sponsors, hotel deals, conference facilities etc.

The DWCC started life in Rioja in the summer of 2008 with less than 40 attendees. I started going the next year as I had launched Jim’s Loire in late August 2008. The 2009 edition was in Lisbon followed by Vienna (2010), Brescia – Franciacorta (2011), Izmir (2012), a return to Rioja (2013) and then Montreux in 2014.

I have now been to seven editions. Only the three organisers – Gabriella and Ryan Opaz and Robert McIntosh of Vrazon - have now been to all eight.

It is no coincidence I fancy that the two most successful editions – Izmir and Montreux have had a substantial Swiss involvement. Nor is it surprising that the least successful, especially in terms of catering, was in Brescia where famously the gala dinner collapsed halfway through as the caterers just couldn’t cope.

Apparently for this latest edition in Plodiv it proved difficult to get things agreed, so the announcement of the venue and then all the other details were revealed considerably later for many of the past editions. I fancy that sorting out the arrangements took a lot of time and energy, so that some routine admin tasks, like a list of participants at the conference, rather fell by the wayside.

I will admit a slight and growing disillusionment as the conference approached. However, this was dispelled during the event as the talks etc. proved to be more interesting than I they appeared on the programme.

Highlights included Richard Hemming’s keynote on  books published since 1903. on his research into wine books, published over a 100-year period, which he submitted as his research for his MW. Although you might think the internet would have sounded a death knell for published wine books the opposite has been the case with a huge increase in self-published books. However the average length of a book has declined sharply. In 2004 only 5% of books had less than 100 pages; by 2013, 47% of books had less than 100 pages!

The increased number of self-published wine books are, Richard found, of variable quality. Some are of high quality, such as Wink Lorch's book on the Jura and Neal Martin's on Pomerol, but some are of dubious merit. 

Martin Wiederkehr

Afternoon sessions: Friday
Wineries, journalists and bloggers (1) + how to be famous (2)
I attended two good sessions in the afternoon with interesting presentations from Martin Wiederkehr, DG of La Cave de Genève, and Richard Siddle, ex-editor of harpers, in the first session. There followed a great presentation from Felicity Carter, editor-in-chief of Meininger's Wine Business, essentially on how to pitch stories and to make them interesting to editors. She stressed the need to think outside the wine box.   

Felicity illustrated her talk with news stories, two of which she was unable to pursue as wine journalists just weren't interested in exploring them. 

I enjoyed the Nerello Mascalese Etna Masterclass – a fascinating area and one I hope to visit soon.

 Giampiero Nadali: @Nerello Mascalese Etna Masterclass

Of the evening events Thursday's BYOB was as usual good fun, despite heavy rain during the evening. The Friday night visits to local wineries proved to be a considerable lottery.

The food at Saturday night's Gala Dinner proved to be more of the lunchtime fare served on Friday and Saturday - Bulgarian salads and kebabs. It was good, however, that this evening featured the announcement of the winners of the revived Born Digital Awards. But, in view of the Champagne Jayne verdict, ironic that Moët sponsored the Champagne reception that opened the evening. Congratulations to all the winners and runners up.

Next year's venue is likely remain a secret for sometime yet. I trust for the organisers' sanity that 2016 will be somewhere less challenging than Bulgaria, however warm and welcoming though the Bulgarians' hospitality was!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Visit to lovely Rila Monastery regaled by glorious autumn colours

Yesterday we took a day tour to Rila Monastery. We used Traventuria and we were so lucky with the weather with sunshine lighting up the glorious autumn colours. Chris was our excellent guide. 

The monastery itself is remarkable, although it is a pity that you apparently can't see some of monks' cells, especially as there are now only nine living in the monsatery which can accommodate many more.   

It is a little over a two hour drive from Sofia once you have got through the city's traffic. The monastery is at 1,147 m (3,763 ft) in the Rila Mountains, so although it was warm in the sun it was chilly in the shade.

The entrance 

Painting of Saint Simon Woolf slaying 
the International Grape Varieties

The rear entrance to the monastery 
from the restaurant and food outlet area

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

RAW 2015 Berlin – Sunday 29h November

Release from RAW Wine Fair:
'With over 120 wine growers, a cider producer, artisan spirits producer and oodles of junmaishu sake to taste, RAW looks set to take Berlin by storm! Space at the Markthalle Neun is limited, however, so whether or not you are trade, a keen drinker or curious press make sure you buy your tickets or register yourself online to avoid disappointment. 
Being so much more than just a wine fair, RAW has teamed up with a collection of restaurants, bars and importers from around Berlin who are offering a raft of RAW-ness to help get everyone in the spirit. So, whether it's 2-star Michelin dining, a theatrical 'vocal local', an evening of Berliner/Viennese/Japanese fusion or a boogy with a glass of natural wine in hand that rocks your boat, there's literally something for everyone at the RAW Off-Events taking place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening across Berlin on the weekend of the fair (27-29 Nov). To find out more, check out our "What's On" listing online. You can also keep up with our goings-on on Twitter (@RAWfair) and Facebook (here). 
Finally, don't forget to scroll down and e-meet some of the wonderful growers whose wines you will get to taste in just over 1 month's time...
Happy halloween to all,
Team RAW'

Monday, 26 October 2015

Champagne Jayne on the CIVC's legal action

Champagne Jayne comments on CIVC case: 

'So relieved that the Court found I could 
keep Champagne Jayne

'one of the most challenging and difficult periods of my life'

On Tuesday 20th October 2015 Justice Jonathan Beach gave his long awaited judgment on the case brought against Jayne Powell – Champagne Jayne by the CIVC. Jayne won a clear points victory able to keep her Champagne Jayne moniker and able to keep all of her Facebook, Twitter accounts, etc. The CIVC's action had demanded that Jayne should not be entitled to use her Champagne Jayne moniker and that everything associated with it should be deleted.     

The following day (21st October) the CIVC gave the following statement to wine journalist Jeni Port, which she then published on Twitter: 

Not a scintilla of regret from the CIVC 
despite ruling demonstrating that 
there was no need to bring this case ...

'The Comite Champagne, after vain attempts at mediation with Ms Powell, was forced to pursue Ms Powell before the Australian courts. The Comite Champagne handles approximately 1,200 cases every year relating to the protection of the Champagne name.' 'More than 95% of all matters are resolved out of court.'

I wonder why the CIVC's claim of 'vain attempts at mediation' reminds me of Veuve Clicquot's 'amicable conversation' with Ciro Picariello ... Does a great white shark perhaps negotiate with a surfer before using their teeth ...?

Following this comment from the CIVC and with advice and permission from her legal team Jayne Powell has made these comments:   

"I have been reflecting on the Federal Court judgment and what it means, which is why I did not comment immediately upon its publication last week.

"As you can appreciate, this has been an emotional time.

"Some people might wonder why I would defend this litigation in the first place, and not just withdraw my trademark and change my name, as the CIVC wanted.  

"For me it wasn’t as simple as that. ‘Champagne Jayne’ is my long time personal nickname and part of my identity. Yes, it is the name of my wine education and  consultancy business (which also happens to be my dream job). 

"But ‘Champagne Jayne’ has really been just me sharing my knowledge and love for champagne with other people around the world. I felt that the nature of CIVC’s demands over-reached, and I was not prepared to capitulate.

"I am so relieved and pleased that the Court found I could keep my ‘Champagne Jayne’ name. This means my ‘Champagne Jayne’ business name, website and social media accounts can continue. 

"If I want, I can also pursue the registration of my trade mark CHAMPAGNE JAYNE in Class 41 - Entertainer services; public speaking services; author services being the writing of texts (other than publicity texts); event management services (organisation of educational, entertainment, sporting or  cultural events); master of ceremonies  services.

"(To be clear, Federal Court Proceeding VID1373/2013 is a separate, but parallel matter to the Champagne Jayne 1471878 Trade Mark Opposition originally lodged by CIVC on 2 November 2012, which is still on foot at this time.)
"It is not quite business as usual, but it is close.

"YES it has hurt a lot to be taken to court by the representative body of the industry I have supported for so many years. The consequences of defending my reputation and integrity have been painful and far reaching.

"However, as hard as it is to say right now, I respect the fact that the CIVC goes to so much effort to protect the champagne industry, and the integrity of the appellation. 

"Hopefully, and given our shared passion for champagne, we can move on from this.

"I need to mention a couple of things about sparkling wines and social media use.  

"Champagne v sparkling wines

First of all, it is true that I talk about sparkling wines (which are not champagnes) as well as champagne (wines produced in the Champagne region of France). Champagne wines constitute less than 10% of global sparkling wine production, but more than 50% of total sparkling wine value.

   The judge confirmed that I can continue to discuss sparkling wines, provided that any sparkling wines I mention are clearly identified as not being champagnes (wines made in the Champagne region of France).

   As the Court found, discussion of sparkling wine has been about 10% of my work. The CIVC was not happy about this - I believe this is a key reason why the litigation was brought against me. 

   Whilst my passion is predominantly champagne, there are some great sparkling wines being made in Australia and elsewhere, which I like personally and have discussed in the media and at events.

   It is from a foundation of knowing a lot about and appreciating champagne that I take a democratic approach. I encourage people to explore the options available, including sparkling wines, and to educate people about the characteristics of products. 

"Social Media Use

   The Court found that some aspects of my social media use in the past did not make it clear enough that sparkling wine is not champagne.

   For instance, it was found that some of my tweets might lead Australians to believe, by mistake, that the sparkling wine I referred to was actually champagne. I take on board the lessons from the judgment about this, and am reviewing my social media use as a result.

   Since the end of the trial on 13 April 2015, I have used the hashtag “#thisisnotchampagne” in Champagne Jayne social media comments which may refer to sparkling wines which are not from the Champagne region. 

"Merci, Danke, Thank You

"Last, but not least, I have so many people to thank from around the world. I can’t name you all here, because that list would go on for at least 20 pages, and in any event some of you may prefer to remain anonymous.   

   You know that this has been one of the most challenging and difficult periods of my life. Three years of litigation have taken a very substantial personal and financial toll, and its not quite over yet.  

   You have picked me up and kept me going (on social media and in person). 

   You have given me good advice, kept things light and social when I needed it, and been a shoulder to lean on when times have been tough.  

   You know who you are, and I sincerely thank you each and every one of you, from the bottom of my heart.

"Otherwise, spare a thought for those who coined my nickname at Reading University. When my friends decided to affectionately dub me Champagne Jayne all those years ago, who would have thought I would literally have to go into Court on the other side of the world to defend my right to use it!"


Some background to the case:

How events unfolded:
In July 2012 Jayne successfully registered Champagne Jayne as a trademark in Australia. The CIVC filed its opposition to this trademark on 2nd November 2012 and started separate court proceedings on 20th December 2013. 

There was a fruitless attempt at mediation in London on 19th March 2014. At the end of 2014 the CIVC and Jayne spent four days (15th-18th December) in the Melbourne Federal Court arguing the case in front of Justice Beach. On 18th December the case was adjourned for a further attempt at mediation. Held on 4th March 2015 this again failed to resolve the dispute, so final submissions were made in court on 13th April, by which time Jayne had a new legal team. 

On 20th October Justice Beach delivered his judgment – a win on points for Champagne Jayne.

The CIVC has 14 days from the judgment to comment on Justice Beach's findings, limited to five pages. Then Jayne and her team have 14 days to respond, also with a limit of five pages. There also remains the important and probably thorny issue of costs.       

Here is the Federal Court judgment in full  

Details on the trademark opposition here

Although Jayne hasn't spoken to the media, there was no gagging order. However, during the December 2014 hearings, both parties privately agreed to confidentiality. During closing submissions on 13th April Jayne's legal team told Justice Beach that she would not speak to the press until after the judgment was delivered. Apart from this release from Jayne, she will not be commenting further until the final part of this case is over.   

The CIVC based its case on the allegation that Jayne had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false representations in contravention of 'ss 18 and 29 of the Australian Consumer Law (Sch 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (ACL)'. The CIVC also alleged that Jayne had advertised wines under a false or misleading description so contravening the 'ss 40C and 40E of the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Act 2013 (Cth) (AGWA Act)'.  

Fortunately Justice Beach found that the CIVC failed to make its case to force Jayne to lose her Champagne Jayne business name, her domain name, her Facebook account ‘Champagne Jayne’, her Twitter account ‘Jayne Powell @champagnejayne’, and which would require her to withdraw her Trade Mark application. 

Nor were the CIVC successful under its AGWA Act claim as Jayne is 'not part of the supply chain; she promotes but does not sell wine'. Nor was the CIVC any more successful in its objection to the way Jayne speaks about sparkling wines at events.  

However, Justice Beach did find that Jayne should not have called herself a Champagne Ambassador. Although I fancy the use of 'an ambassador for Champagne' might pass the judicial test. 

Justice Beach also found that some of Jayne's posts and tweets were misleading and contravened the Australian Consumer Law as they failed to make it clear that some of the sparkling wines cited were not Champagne.  

This judgment may well have implications for social media users in Australia, especially if it appears that they are promoting products even when they are not paid to promote them.

Here are some of the relevant sections of the judgment: 

a. Those who use social media as part of the general promotion of their  business (particularly relevant for small businesses) are capable of being held liable under the ACL on the basis that this is conduct ‘in trade or commerce’ (see paras [191] and [192] of judgment).

b.  A person can be liable under the ACL for ‘promoting’ a product even if the person is not paid to do so. One is at risk of liability if the conduct goes beyond being merely an independent reviewer and critic, and extends to ‘speaking favourably’ or ‘advocating’ for a product in a PR sense (see paras [124], [166(a), (c), (d)]).

c.  A person can be liable for misleading or deceptive conduct under the ACL even if he or she is not part of the supply chain and does not sell the product promoted.  This is because the people who read tweets and posts are actual or potential consumers and capable of being misled (see para [193] of judgment).

d.  In considering liability, even though “Tweeting is fleeting”, “the ripple  effects of such a mode are unclear”, found the judge.  Three characteristics said to make tweets “enduring (and therefore potentially misleading or deceptive in breach of the ACL) were:

First, a Tweet may be fleeting, but its effect or influence on a reader may be more enduring Secondly, although particular communications may be fleeting in real time, nevertheless there is usually a more permanent record of the communications contained and preservedfor anyone to access at a later stage. (para 180)

"Third, although the communications may be fleeting in real time, the repetition over an extended time frame of similar types of communications may demonstrate a pattern of more enduring and potentially infringing conduct. (para [180])"