The bassist from Britpop sensation Blur has trademarked the name ‘Britpop’ and plans to produce a “British sparkling wine”.
Alex James, one fifth of Blur, who along with Oasis embody the Britpop era, revealed the potential venture to The Telegraph.
The band last performed in 2012 at Hyde Park at an event that coincided with the end of the Olympics. Now, the musician is more likely to be found tending to his 200-acre farm in Kingham, Oxfordshire, perfecting his skills as a cheesemaker. He produces eight different types including Blue Monday, Figgy Pudding and Farleigh Wallop, but it appears his interests could extend to the sparkling wine industry.
Speaking to The Telegraph James said: “My heart sinks every time I hear the word Britpop. It wasn’t really a movement, was it? It was two great bands and everybody else copying them,” he said. “So, I’ve decided to turn it into a marketing opportunity. I’ve trademarked the name Britpop and really want to make a British sparkling wine.”
Earlier this year the term “British Fizz” was brought forth for protection as a PGI by Bob Lindo of Camel Valley in Cornwall, which the wine trade has largely criticised.
The jury is still out on what England’s burgeoning sparkling wine industry should be protected as, but English sparkling wine appears to be the safest and most accepted bet.
Sussex Sparkling Wine, meanwhile, became is the first region to gain PDO status for its sparkling wine despite the legalities still going through EU courts, giving it the same protection as Champagne. Rathfinny the first to make use of it.
One the UK leaves the European Union next year, this protection is likely to be open for further debate, and a new designation could be introduced.
Speaking to the drinks business earlier this year, Wine GB CEO David Parkinson, said one of the most tangible changes set to take place after Brexit will be the creation of an independent PDO system for English and Welsh wines. While details of what form this system might take is still under consideration Parkinson said it will “need to be in place from the moment we leave the EU”.
“It will probably be introduced over a period of time. If it launched by 29 March there wouldn’t be enough time so the industry needs a phased introduction so everyone can be prepared,” he said. “The quality is extremely high and improving. We want any legislation to be a reflection of that.”
According to the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office, there are currently two registered trade marks for the term “Britpop”. One covers snacks and popcorn type products. The other is owned and registered to Alex James, who first applied for the trademark in 2013, and covers both non-alcoholic carbonated beverages, as well as alcohol.
Britpop might be niche, and invites those tricky questions about the particularities of ‘British’ wine (which is technically a drink made in Britain by the fermentation of any fruit juice or concentrate originating from anywhere in the world), but it’s perfectly suited to an ex-bassist of Blur that now makes cheese in the countryside.
Once a year, James co-hosts the Big Feastival on his farm with Jamie Oliver, co-ordinating chefs from across the country, musical acts and entertainment. This year the event will run from August 24 to 26 at Alex James’ Farm in Kingham, Oxfordshire. Last year Rizzle Kicks, Lianne La Havas and Basement Jaxx performed.