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French winemaker appeals over ‘Lafite’ name

A winemaker in southwest France is challenging a ruling that says he has no legal right to use the name Chateau Lafite on his own bottles.

Éric Gendre, based in AOC Fronton in the region of Haut Garonne, is one of several French wine estates hit by a ‘cease and desist’ ruling brought by DBR, owner of Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac (pictured).

Although Gendre’s wines are sold at around EUR5 per bottle, and made from the Négrette grape rather than the classic Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, a tribunal ruled his label was misleading to consumers.

He can currently only sell his wines in bulk, but he is appealing the decision.

‘I tried to suggest that I could change my name to Chateau Rose-Lafite, after my mother’s first name, but that was not accepted,’ Gendre told decanter.com. ‘It is David against Goliath.’

He said his estate, which traces its roots back to the 17th Century, ‘moved onto Lafite Rothschild’s radar’ after he began exporting to China in 2009.

DBR currently has around a dozen legal battles ongoing with different chateaux over the use of similar names, as do many other leading wine estates.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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