Médoc and Sauternes: The classified growths get ‘1855’ classed as a traditional term

Tuesday February 09 2016 by Vitisphere

On August 22, 2015, the European Commission published text number 2015/C 278/01 making ‘1855’ the first date to be classed as a traditional wine term. As the opposition phase is now closed, no brands containing the number 1855 can be legally registered or used in Europe for wines. The blocking procedure, which was launched five years ago by the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855*, will avoid any misuses of the term such as the former e-tailer 1855.com. “At the time, the council lacked a proactive approach. But we are now starting to put some order back”, says council chairman Philippe Castéjà. “The traditional term protects all the components of the classification – Cru Classé and 1855 – and therefore represents the first step in protecting our chateau brand names”, he adds.

Until now, lengthy and costly court cases whereby people had to be sued for deliberate misuse of a name or misleading consumers were the only option”, explains legal expert Jean-Baptiste Thial de Bordenave who runs LexWine and the InLex practice and conducted these latest proceedings. “Now there is a direct recognition tool for the classification which makes protection virtually automatic. Ex officio, administrations in the 28 member countries are entitled to put a stop to deliberate misuse of a name, without referral”. European recognition should also have an impact on international protection of the classification. In procedures involving deliberate misuse of the name and counterfeiting, the text will attest to the reputation and legitimacy of the 1855 name.

Apart from withdrawal of the Unesco application, “2015 was a successful year for the classification which celebrated its 160th anniversary at the Quai d’Orsay. It saw an end to trading for 1855.com and recovery of its French brand and internet domain name”, points out Sylvain Boivert, director of the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855. On top of this was European recognition as a traditional term and “the icing on the cake, the terms ‘Grands Crus Classés en 1855’ have just been recognised as class 33 by China. Over the long term, this protection will allow us to save time and money in legal fees”, adds Sylvain Boivert. Without giving away any actual numbers, Philippe Castéjà admitted that legal action designed to protect the classification is the Council’s “main budget line”.


* The procedure was launched when the traditional term category was created as part of the Common Organisation of the Market for Wine. “Registration doesn’t happen overnight! In fact, five years is actually quick!” commented Jean-Baptiste Thial de Bordenave. Until now, recognised historic traditional terms were, Grand, Premier, Deuxième, Troisième, Quatrième and Cinquième Cru Classé.


Source: Vitisphere; Illustration: The Napoleonic eagle symbolising the 1855 classification (Conseil des Grands Crus Classés).


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