segunda-feira, novembro 20, 2006

An amusing vintage

Já sabíamos que o mundo dos vinhos americanos é um mundo à parte. Mas nunca pensámos que seria possível um litígio judicial entre produtores sobre a propriedade e titularidade do nome comercial “Big Ass”! Nos clássicos padrões europeus trata-se de uma hipótese remota. Nos EUA é já uma realidade! Tudo começou quando num evento de provas vinhos se veio a descobrir que existiam várias marcas com “Big Ass” nos rótulos. A luta nos tribunais já começou. O mais curioso é ver que também por cá se tem procurado nomes fáceis de decorar e que sejam atrevidos, apelando aos consumidores mais jovens (eg., casos dos tintos portugueses "Sexy" ou "Amo-te"). Fica aqui um excerto retirado do site WineBusiness:

«Both Adler Fels Winery in Santa Rosa and Milano Family Vineyards in Hopland are producing "Big Ass" wines, and neither is willing to turn the other cheek. The two sides are girding for a battle in federal court in San Francisco over the rights to the colorful name. The case highlights the increasing importance wineries are placing on eye-catching brands to help their products stand out in a fiercely competitive marketplace.
"The Big Ass name seems to have some legs, no pun intended," said Raymond Horwath, who applied for a trademark for " Big Ass " for beer in 1995. Alder Fels got federal approval to produce "Big Ass Cab" in April 2004 for one of its custom-crush clients. The label on the $15 cabernet sauvignon features a colorful painting of a corpulent couple dancing.
Six weeks later, in June 2004, the smaller Milano Family Vineyards in Hopland received label approval to make "Big Ass Red," a red blend that also retails for about $15. The label also depicts a painting of a couple dancing, the woman's posterior prominently displayed. At the time they got their labels approved, however, neither winery owned the trademark for the cheeky name (…). In July 2005, with his beer business building steadily, Horwath agreed to license the rights to "Big Ass" to the tiny Milano Family Winery.
Deanna Starr, who started the 4,000-case Hopland winery with her husband Ted in 2001, said she first learned the importance of catchy labels when she created Recall Red in 2003, a "tribute to the crazy gubernatorial recall election in California". "That taught me the power of a label," Starr said. "We had calls from all over the country on that." But when Starr sought to trademark the label, her attorney found that Horwath owned the rights to the name. Starr made contact with Horwath and struck a deal to license the name from him, she said.
Soon after inking the deal, Horwath said one of his customers saw another "Big Ass" wine at a wine show. A little investigation revealed that Adler Fels, the 300,000-case winery started in 1979 by David and Ayn Coleman, was producing three wines with that name: Big Ass Cab, Big Ass Zin and Big Ass Chard. In an effort to urge the winery to stop infringing on his trademark, Horwath said he spoke to Larry Dutra, president of the Adams Beverage Group, the Westlake Village firm that purchased the winery in late 2004. Dutra explained that while Adler Fels produces the Big Ass label, the brand was actually owned by a New Jersey beverage distributor. Alder Fels makes a few of its own wine brands, such as Leaping Lizard, but specializes in making wines for other organizations, a common wine industry practice called "custom crushing." It makes Big Ass wines for Allied Beverage Group.
Dutra said this week the genesis of the Big Ass labels preceded his company's purchase of Adler Fels, and he could not comment on it. He said the company hoped to have the matter behind it soon. "It's unfortunate that we live in a litigious society where a guy who makes beer can interfere with a wine business," Dutra said. Wine label disputes are not uncommon, but it is unusual for them to end up in lawsuits, Ross said. The law is fairly clear, and usually once the facts are outlined, the winery infringing on a trademark agrees to stop, she said.
It's not too surprising that two wineries would want to use the "Big Ass" name, said British wine writer Peter May, who recently published "Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape," a survey of unusual wine labels. Wineries, especially new ones, are realizing they need to be creative to stand out on store shelves that are more crowded than ever, May said. Examples of clever wine labels are everywhere, May said. Fat Bastard, a French wine, has seen phenomenal growth in the United States in recent years, and is now the fourth best-selling French chardonnay in the United States, May said. Goats Do Roam, a South African wine that plays off of the French wine region Cotes du Rhone, has seen equally rapid growth, May said.
"If you're aiming for the low to mid-price range and you want to get someone to pick up your wine, then you've got to have something fun and a bit interesting just to get people to notice it," May said. »

PS - É claro que os críticos americanos aproveitam-se - e bem! - dos nomes dos vinhos para testar a sua criatividade e fazem notas de prova com comentários delirantes, tais como: "The idea of big ass Cabernet is distinctly Californian, and frankly it's about time someone just put it on the label. If the Old World of Bordeaux is subtle and understated, like a mix of Glenn Close and Sophie Marceau, then California Cabernet generally falls somewhere between Bette Midler and Salma Hayek."

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