Crunch time for Margaux crisps?

Wednesday September 22 2021 by Vitisphere

 It should be pointed out that Margaux is not the name of a Gironde village, but rather Margaux Cantenac. It should be pointed out that Margaux is not the name of a Gironde village, but rather Margaux Cantenac. - Photo credit : Alexandre Abellan (Vitisphere)

Packets of ‘Chips de Margaux’ or ‘Margaux crisps’ by ‘Domaine de la Croustille’, which come in a range of flavours, from Guérande salt to Nepalese pepper and summer truffle, clearly claim connections with the world of fine Médoc wines. Use of expressions such as ‘cooked on the estate’ and ‘100% Médoc expertise’ only corroborate the crisps’ supposed origins, despite the fact that the company's head office is in Hourtins, a non-wine-producing town along the coast. This type of allusion to the world of wine raises the hackles of Édouard Miailhe, chair of the Margaux AOC wine producers’ organisation, which has 65 member chateaux: “To conflate Margaux and potatoes is wrong! This must stop, Margaux is a name that should be protected, not weakened”.

The issue here is about free-riding. Looking to successful initiatives and copying them is unjust”, confirms Jean-Baptiste Thial de Bordenave, director of the wine division of law firm DLLP, who has been in charge of legal protection for AOC Margaux for a year. Thial de Bordenave points out that the company behind the brand “is a frequent practitioner of such conflations, having previously attempted to market ‘grand cru classé’ crisps” to enhance promotion of its products. Purportedly “excellent crisps” as per the company’s marketing spiel, made from potatoes grown in “the Margaux area”, their price tag is certainly commensurate with their ambitions (€3.50 for a 150-gramme pack).

Having received no response from Domaine de la Croustille (neither did Vitisphere at the time of publication), AOC Margaux intends to seek assistance from the authorities so that the brand can be terminated amicably. “In 99% of cases [of usurpation], there is no legal procedure, because legal texts and case law are clear”, explains Thial de Bordenave, mentioning the first cases he pursued for the appellation – Margaux beers and vinegars, which were ended amicably.



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