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Canada proposes national Icewine regulations to curb fraud

In an attempt to curb fraud the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is proposing amendments to national regulations governing the production of Icewine.

Icewine: national regulations proposed

The new, internationally recognised, standard will help countries identify and control fraudulent Canadian Icewines on their shelves, according to the Canadian Vintners Association.

At present, the CFIA says, ‘there are only regional standards, which exist in Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia.’

As well as harmonising labelling regulations, the amendment will require that wine labelled as Icewine in Canada meet a national standard. This standard would require Icewine to be made only from grapes naturally frozen on the vine.

The problem of fake icewine is greatest in China, where ‘an estimated 30-50% of Icewine on Chinese retail shelves is fake,’ according to Randy Dufour, export director of Inniskillin Wines.

Luke Harford, vice president of economics and government relations at the Canadian Vinters Association said the national standard would ‘protect the consumer and ensure a baseline of quality’.

He added, ‘fending off counterfeit products in a global market is difficult and the problem isn’t something that goes away with a single piece of regulation. It is a continuous process.’

Louise Wilson, international sales manager at Peller Estates, said ‘the issue of counterfeit products is not exclusive to Canadian Icewine, but also German Eiswein and other quality European wines.’

The problem is compounded by producers in north America and Europe exporting bulk, unbottled icewine, allowing unscrupulous distributors to increase volumes by adulterating with sugared water and other products. Because the Icewine is legitimately imported it is difficult for inspectors to identify fraudulent wines.

To avoid fraudulent products, Wilson advises consumers to look for quality assurance guarantees on bottles, such as the VQA from Ontario, and to beware comparatively low prices, terms such as ‘iced wine,’ ‘iced dessert wine,’ and similar variations.

The proposals have been welcomed by Canadian producers. Paul-André Bosc, president of Château des Charmes and chair of the Canadian Vintners Association said, ‘Not unlike other wine producers around the world, many Canadian wineries believe that the demand for wine in China will continue to grow in the years to come.

‘The proposed new Icewine regulations will help us establish a sustainable, long term export business in China. This initiative is certainly important in the present… but it will be even more important in the future.’

The new CFIA amendments are currently under a 30 day comment period, which is ending on 14 February, 2012. The final legislation will be rolled out later this year.

Written by Emily Pearce-Bibona

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