EU, US sign off wine deal

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Wine Mariann fischer boel European union European commission

A controversial agreement to protect Europe's traditional wine
names like Champagne and Port from use by American winemakers has
been officially signed by the US and European Union.

Representatives from the US and EU signed off the wine labelling deal on Friday, two-and-half months after agriculture ministers from different member states endorsed it.

The agreement, tentatively set up last September, will limit American producers' use of 17 traditional wine names found in the European Union. The EU, in exchange, will recognise existing US winemaking practices previously not allowed within the bloc.

"This deal will facilitate access for EU wines to the lucrative US market, where consumers greatly appreciate the quality and long history behind our wines,"​ said Mariann Fischer Boel, European commissioner for agriculture.

The US is the biggest market for EU wines, buying up 40 per cent of the bloc's exports at a value of more than €2bn.

The wine deal has, however, proved controversial among French winemakers.

France's wine co-operatives' union (CCVF) called the agreement unacceptable. "Businesses already using semi-generic names [for their wines] could continue using them for an unlimited time period,"​ it said.

The CCVF said it was also concerned about a "regrettable precedent"​ the agreement may have set concerning winemaking practices.

A number of European producers have long been against certain 'non-traditional' US winemaking practices, such as putting wood shavings into wine vats to help the wine's taste reach maturity faster, and the addition of certain flavour aromas.

The addition of wood shavings to wine is now legal in the European Union, a move, nevertheless, welcomed by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.

The European Commission will begin talks with the US on a 'second-phase' wine agreement within 90 days.

A Commission spokesperson said the next talks would likely be more difficult. They are set to include: a dialogue on geographical indications, a dialogue on the matter of names of origin including the future of the semi-generic terms, a dialogue on the use of traditional expressions, low alcohol wines, certification, wine-making practices and the creation of a joint committee on wine issues.

Related topics Markets Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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