British brewer wins two-year battle against French Champagne makers to call his beer Champale


A new sparkling beer called Champale will go on sale tomorrow after two-year battle and legal threats from French champagne producers who claimed the name was too similar to their own famous bubbly.

The English tipple – which will be sold in sparkling wine-shaped bottles complete with a traditional wired cork – has been made by a vineyard on Mersea Island in Essex where according to local legend the Romans first tended vines 2,000 years ago.

But the battle to produce the powerful Champale – 10.5 per cent strength – was only won after owner Roger Barber convinced the trademark authorities – and French – that they had no claim on the word "champ"

Champagne growers insisted that "champ" was the common familiar term for champagne – but Mr Barber pointed out that in England "champ" was short for champion.

Champale will go on sale tomorrow Champale will go on sale tomorrow Photo: Anglia Press Agency

The comité interprofessionnel du vin de champagne promote and protect Champagne, which sent Mr Barber the letter, represents many major champagne houses including Mumm, Moet, Veuve Cliquot, Tattinger, Pol Roger Bollinger and Laurent-Perrier.

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"It was a bit of a fight but eventually we won the day," said Mr Barber who runs the Mersea Island vineyard with his wife Jackie while son Mark runs a small brewery next door.

"We put in the trademark request but got a letter from the French almost immediately telling us that we could not use the name and if we did, there would be serious and costly legal consequences.

"But we weren't about to give in so we argued our case and eventually won.

"We bottled the first champale in 2013 so it now has the right bottle age and is ready to be sold- and drunk."

It is made with traditional malted barley with the addition of champagne-style yeasts that give it its effervescent bubbles.

Mr Barber describes the taste as "very smooth with fruity notes not unlike a Trappist beer, " and has produced an initial 2,000 bottles which will sell at £16 each.

But he added he has no immediate plans to export any to Epernay or Reims.

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