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Aussie-EU wine deal to protect Champagne and Port

By Guy Montague-Jones , 02-Sep-2010

Australian wine producers have pledged to phase out the use of important European names like Champagne and Port as part of a new wine agreement with the EU.

The new deal covering terms of wine trade between Australia and the EU came into force yesterday, replacing an earlier agreement signed in 1994.

Both sides claim that the new agreement holds up their respective interests. The EU delegation said it “provides important safeguards for EU wine interests” while Australian representatives said the agreement improves access for Australian producers to the EU market.

Protection for EU names

From the EU point of view, the agreement was welcomed for giving full protection to EU geographical indications and traditional expressions.

Dacian Ciolos, EU commissioner for agriculture and rural development, said: “Crucially, we have obtained the commitment that Australian wine producers will phase out the use of key EU Geographical Indications and traditional expressions for wine. This is of utmost importance for European producers.”

For certain terms, immediate protection is provided while for some a phase out period has been agreed.

In particular, from September 2011 onwards, Australian producers will not be able to use terms like Champagne, Port and Sherry along with some traditional expressions such as Amontillado, Claret and Auslese.

Australian point of view

From the Australian perspective, Steve Guy from the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) said the agreement means Australian wine producers will need to make fewer changes and concessions to sell wine in the EU.

Under the latest agreement, 16 additional Australian winemaking techniques have been accepted by the EU. And requirements covering a range of other issues from labelling and blending to alcohol levels and the display of Australian awards have been simplified.

The wine trade between Australia and the EU has grown significantly over the years especially from Australia to the EU. In 2009, EU wine exports to Australia were worth €68m and Australian exports to the EU were worth €643m.

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