Call this a roundup of pressing wine legal news (and yes, the pun was fully intended).
• Winemaker sues blog commenters: Charles Smith, who makes well-regarded Washington state wines (and was featured on the blog) has apparently had enough of the Internet and anonymous criticism. He has filed a lawsuit against the people who said he wasn’t a winemaker, but a marketer, on the Blake Gray wine blog. The catch? Smith doesn’t know who made the comments, so he has subpoenaed Google, which hosts the blog, to get technical information that may allow him to identify the commenters. I don’t know Smith other than from our one phone interview, but I like his wines and he seems like someone who cares about what he does. My advice? Let this drop. Small-minded people hide behind anonymity, and they’re not worth the trouble.
• “Wine Mafia gangs”: French police think well-organized criminal gangs are raiding vineyards in the Languedoc region, stripping vineyards bare. One top cop said it may even be the work of Russian gangs: “We are undoubtedly dealing with the kind of upmarket criminals who steal old master paintings and antiques to order.” This is difficult to believe, given the amount of effort needed to harvest grapes. Robbing banks is quicker, has a bigger payoff, and requires much less work. Even more amazing? London’s Daily Telegraph, which ran this story, then tried to tie the French theft into thefts in Japan and Washington state. What’s next — a movie called the Winemaker Code about an ancient conspiracy to reserve wine for the very rich?
• Frog in the bottle: Or, don’t buy Spanish whites from British supermarkets. An English woman claims a small frog fell out of the bottle and into her glass during a family celebration, and she has suffered stomach pains ever since the incident. The article, from Britain’s Sun newspaper, even has a picture. The woman is suing, and there is a terrific quote from her solicitor about how the store had a contractual obligation to sell wine without frogs in it. Which brings the Wine Curmudgeon to quote Shakespeare (since this happened in Britain) from Henry VI, Part 2: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”