The bat­tle for Cham­bord: Jack Daniel’s takes on French chateau

Whiskey maker bids to pre­vent 16th-cen­tury cas­tle from us­ing its own name on its wine bot­tles

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By David Chazan in Paris

THE mak­ers of Jack Daniel’s whiskey have launched a le­gal ac­tion against one of France’s most cel­e­brated chateaux, Cham­bord, in a bid to stop it us­ing its own name on wine it plans to pro­duce.

The Ken­tucky-based Brown-for­man Cor­po­ra­tion is chal­leng­ing the right of the 16th-cen­tury Loire Val­ley chateau to call its wine “Cham­bord” on the grounds that the US firm has pro­duced a liqueur of the same name for more than a decade.

The chateau only set up a vine­yard three years ago as part of ef­forts to be­come self-fund­ing. It is to pro­duce its first “Clos de Cham­bord” and “IGP Cham­bord” wines this au­tumn.

Jean d’haus­sonville, the di­rec­tor of the chateau built by King Fran­cis I, is out­raged at the Amer­i­can com­pany’s ac­tion. “It is unimag­in­able that a liqueur could pre­vent us from us­ing the brand of our na­tional her­itage for our own prod­ucts,” he said.

Cham­bord liqueur, made from rasp­ber­ries, is mod­elled on a bev­er­age pro­duced in the Loire Val­ley in the 17th cen­tury. The “royal liqueur” is now made at Cour-chev­erny, near Cham­bord, where Brown-for­man em­ploys about 20 peo­ple. “Their web­site im­plies that it is made at Cham­bord, which is false,” Mr d’haus­sonville said. Brown-for­man says it ac­quired own­er­ship of the Cham­bord prod­uct brand “many years ago”.

Mr d’haus­sonville ar­gues that the Amer­i­can firm should not be al­lowed ex­clu­sive rights to a name that car­ries his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance in France. “The fight for Cham­bord is a fight for our en­tire na­tion,” he said. “Across the world, com­pa­nies are able to take a name that plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in French her­itage, and ex­ploit it.”

Cham­bord, the largest and best­known of the Loire chateaux, at­tracts tourists from across the world with its dis­tinc­tive French Re­nais­sance ar­chi­tec­ture. In De­cem­ber, Em­manuel Macron, the French pres­i­dent, cel­e­brated his 40th birth­day at a lodge 200 yards from the chateau, which he vis­ited with his guests. The case is to be heard by the high court of Paris, but the chateau and the cor­po­ra­tion are now ne­go­ti­at­ing in the hope of reach­ing an out-of-court set­tle­ment. Cham­bord is said to be hop­ing to ob­tain fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion from Brown-for­man for the use of its name.

How­ever, last month the chateau lost a le­gal bat­tle with the mak­ers of Kro­nen­bourg beer, which it al­leged had used pho­to­graphs of Cham­bord in a 2010 ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign with­out its per­mis­sion.

A court in Nantes, western France, re­jected the château’s de­mand for Kro­nen­bourg to pay it more than £220,000, but Mr d’haus­sonville ar­gues that the law has changed since 2010, with the ad­di­tion of the “Cham­bord amend­ment” to a French law on her­itage in 2016, strength­en­ing the brand pro­tec­tion of his­toric sites. He said: “Why should we not get roy­al­ties on the use of our name, given that these prod­ucts ben­e­fit from our im­age and that im­age is main­tained by the French tax­payer?”

Cham­bord, a 16th-cen­tury Loire Val­ley chateau, and, in­set, Cham­bord liqueur

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