Canadian Icewine wins European access

  • Friday 9 March 2001

The European Union has agreed to import Canadian Icewine for the first time ever.

From next month, Canadian Icewine – barred from Europe because it does not meet a European Union (EU) regulation for residual sugar content – will be given the right of distribution across Europe.

The intensely sweet dessert wine, made from late-harvested grapes that are picked, crushed and pressed while frozen, was previously prohibited as its potential alcoholic content was in excess of 15 degrees, a requirement that European dessert wines were exempt from.

Canada has welcomed the embargo being lifted. 'This is the biggest achievement on the wine trade front in ten years and represents a very positive step towards furthering Canada/EU cooperation,' says Ontario's Consumer and Business Services Minister Norm Sterling.

The Canadian government and the Canadian wine industry has campaigned for the rule to be lifted for years. According to Sterling, the move promises to 'promote economic growth' in the country's wine market. The industry currently exports only CA$300,000 (US$194,000) worth of wine to the EU.

UK retailer Berkmann Wine Cellars is now preparing to launch the first Canadian Icewine on the market. The merchant already imports wines from one of Canada's largest wineries, Mission Hill (pictured), and will now distribute its Grand Reserve Riesling 1997 Icewine, to be priced between £15-£20 for a half bottle. 'It's a niche market, and will compete well alongside German Icewines of a similar price,' says Susannah George, Berkmann's marketing manager.

She also hails the end to the import restriction. 'It's a ludicrous ruling and has been a great frustration for us – but now we can bring in what we hope to be a very successful product,' she says.

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