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New Deal To Protect Prestigious European Wines

  • December 4th, 2008
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

Australia and the European Union have signed a trade agreement that will better protect European wines as well as open up markets for Australian producers in Europe.

s_champagne.jpgThe deal, struck in Brussels on Monday, will see Australian wine producers having to cease labelling their wines that relate to European Geographical Locations (GLs) and traditional expressions, which the EU sees as a significant marketing advantage in the wine industry.

EU PROTECTS WINE HERITAGE

Under the terms of the deal, Australian producers will not use European names such as “claret”, “Chablis”, “Burgundy” and “Manzanilla” to label their wines.

The deal is set to take about a year to phase out the practice completely with such wines as champagne to be labeled as “sparkling wine” and port to be re-named as “liqueur wine”.

European producers are angered that their most prime exports like Champagne have to compete in the Australian market, and world market, with Australian products which have boldly used their nomenclature for decades.

The names are held by their owners to signify years of winemaking tradition — more than just the product itself.

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture Mariann Fischer Boel said the agreement would safeguard Europe’s wine labelling regime.

“The big prize which the EU has won here is rock-solid legal protection on the Australian market for our treasured European wine names.

“So any shoppers seeing labels like these on bottles in an Australian supermarket will know for sure that they’re getting the genuine article, not an imitation,” she said.

Wine exports to Europe from Australia last year were worth over $1.3 billion, mainly to Britain but also into other Western European markets traditionally dominated by French wines.

AUSTRALIA FARES WELL IN DEAL

Australia will benefit from the deal with improved access to its largest wine export market – Europe.

Europe will now recognise an additional 16 Australian winemaking techniques, including the use of oak chips to add flavour to wines.

Australia will also be given protection in Europe for its 112 registered geographical indicators including Barossa Valley, Margaret River and Mudgee.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith is calling the new agreement a “win-win” for Australian wine producers.

“For Australian producers it means simpler recognition of wine making techniques and simpler labeling requirements, ” he said.

Under the agreement Australian winemakers will still be able to use a number of traditional expressions such as ‘vintage’, ‘ruby’ and ‘tawny’ to describe their wine.

Renaming Australian wines however may still prove challenging with no obvious alternative name to such products as “sherry”, a name traditionally associated with the Southern parts of Spain — as it has been also, with many a pre-dinner tipple at the Southern end of the world.

Reference:

“European deal improves trade access for Australian wines”,
www.wineaustralia.com, (2.12.08).

European Commission, “EU Australia wine trade agreement signed”, www.europa.eu,
(1.12.08).

Australian Government – Austrade, www.austrade.gov.au, (2.12.08).

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