Pop the Bubbly: Champagne Sorbet Survives EU Challenge

(CN) – Just in time for the new year, the European Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that a Champagne sorbet sold by the discount supermarket Aldi does not infringe the protected designation of France’s prestigious sparkling wine.

Made by the Belgium company Galana NV, Champagner Sorbet is a frozen drink product that is just 12 percent champagne.

When Aldi began selling the frozen drink product in 2012, an association of Champagne producers called the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne filed suit in Germany.

CIVC, as the Champagne producers are known, did win an initial injunction, but an appeals court in Munich reversed, and Germany’s Federal Court of Justice put the case on hold pending input by the EU’s highest court.

Siding with Aldi on Wednesday, the European Court of Justice noted that the use of the word Champagne here is meant “to claim openly a gustatory quality connected with it, which does not amount to misuse, imitation or evocation.”

The national court must determine on remand whether champagne sorbet evokes the necessary taste to call on the reputation of wines from the Champagne Valley.

“If the foodstuff at issue in the main proceedings did not have, as an essential characteristic, a taste attributable primarily to the presence of champagne in its composition, it would therefore be possible to conclude that the name ‘Champagner Sorbet’ on the inner or outer packaging of that foodstuff constituted a false or misleading indication,” the ruling continues.

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