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Roederer warns UK urban winery Renegade over ‘Crystal’ wine

An urban winery in London that makes a pet nat wine named ‘Crystal’ has received a warning from lawyers representing Champagne house Louis Roederer, owner of the Cristal brand.

London urban winery Renegade was contacted by a legal firm stating that it represents France’s Champagne Louis Roederer, and claiming the UK producer’s use of ‘Crystal’ on one of its wines infringes the trademark rights of Roederer’s Cristal brand.

Renegade’s Crystal is a pink pet nat sparkling wine produced with Croatina grapes from Italy’s Lombardy region. However, according to Renegade, the law firm said the name is too similar to Cristal, with only the ‘y’ and ‘i’ exchanged.

Lawyers also accused the winery of ‘passing off’, a form of misrepresentation that may have damaged Cristal’s reputation with drinkers.

Renegade founder Warwick Smith said he was surprised to receive the legal letter. It was never our intention to copy or pass ourselves off as Cristal,’ he said. ‘We admire and respect the great work of Champagne houses such as Louis Roederer. We are keen to resolve this amicably with Louis Roederer and their lawyers.’

He said the bottles were ‘completely different’ and the brand names were pronounced differently.

Crystal Pet Nat wine from Renegade urban winery

‘Crystal’ Pet Nat wine from Renegade. Credit: Warwick Smith.

He said Renegade’s wine is named after a real person, Crystal, who was a fashion student in London in 2018, and agreed to have her face featured on the label. He said it ‘never even crossed our minds’ that it could be confused with Cristal Champagne.

Renegade, founded in East London in 2016, produces a range of different wines featuring the image of a real person.

Cristal 2013

Louis Roederer’s Cristal 2013. Credit: Louis Roederer.

It’s understood the law firm that contacted Renegade also expressed Louis Roederer’s desire to resolve the situation amicably. Yet, it asked Renegade to cease using the ‘Crystal’ name or potentially face legal action in court.   

Louis Roederer’s UK distributor, Maison Marques & Domaines, said it was unable to confirm any details or comment on the matter, which was being handled by the producer’s legal team.

Renegade made around 6,000 bottles of Crystal wine from the 2021 vintage, currently on sale via its website for £27-a-bottle, and about 7,000 bottles of the not-yet-released 2022 vintage. There won’t be a 2023 vintage, because Renegade is focusing on sourcing grapes from English vineyards this year, said Smith. 

He said the company’s total production was up to 70,000 bottles per year, but this year would be more like 45,000 bottles.

Louis Roederer’s Cristal is one of the world’s most sought-after Champagnes, first created in 1876 to satisfy the tastes of Tsar Alexander II. The blend is generally around 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. 

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