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Goats continue to Roam despite Rhône objections

South African winery Fairview has introduced a new line of wines called ‘Goats do Roam in Villages’ as a trademark fight with the French continues in the US.

According to the label on the back of the bottle, the new wine was so named after a herd of goats from the estate farm ‘volunteered’ to go and supply their milk to a village of children orphaned by AIDS.

The name of the wine follows on from a couple of puns – intentional or not – on Rhône-style reds, in particular, Goats do Roam, similar to Côtes du Rhône, and Goat Roti (Côte Rôtie).

Fairview – also a goat farm – originally claimed that the naming of the wines was ‘purely coincidental’, pointing out that goats do roam near – and once actually in – the vineyard. With this release Fairview are taking a new line and boss Charles Back is keen to stress the conceptual difference.

‘As a concept, Goats do Roam in Villages is intellectually far apart from its French counterpart,’ he said. He added that he seriously doubted the label on the new bottle (pictured) resembled any village in France.

These puns – ‘justified’ according to Malcom Gluck in The Guardian – have irked France’s terroir creator and protector, the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine).

The INAO is currently in a legal battle in America to stop the trademark of Fairview’s Goats Roti.

The similarity between the Goats do Roam line and the French wines of the Côtes du Rhône is ‘evident’ according to INAO spokesperson Sylvie Serra. The INAO is keen to avoid the media interest generated by the wrangle.

‘We are not playing his game. We do not want to feed the publicity it has created,’ said Serra.

According to Back, the troubles started when Fairview wanted to register the name of their wine in the US and it was blocked by the French. The INAO claim that some Americans may not see the difference between the wines.

Ironically, the Goats do Roam trademark was accepted in Europe before the first bottles were produced in 1999.

Written by Oliver Styles

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