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New EU wine regulations in force

The European Union’s new wine regulations have come into force, ushering in a new era for the European wine industry.

[Correction In this article we say ‘The French AOC becomes AOP’, implying that AOC is going to disappear. That is not the case. AOP is a protection granted at the European level to a wide range of consumable products; it reforms some of the barriers formerly imposed by AOC, without replacing it. A producer who is unable to get an AOP will lose its AOC, but it is possible to be both AOC and AOP.]

The hotly-debated plans – agreed by agriculture ministers in December 2007 – aim to modernise the European wine trade and improve its competitiveness in the face of a growing challenge from the New World.

The reform will also bring in new simpler labelling laws. From August 1, all wine labels are now allowed to mention grape variety and vintage on the label. The French AOC becomes AOP (Appellation d’Origin Protegée) and the equivalent of vin de pays wines will now be known as IGPs (Indication Geographique Protegée). [see correction above]

A voluntary, three-year grubbing-up scheme to encourage uncompetitive producers to leave the industry will be put in place. Subsidies for crisis distillation will also be phased out as an added measure to reduce overproduction.

Mariann Fischer Boel, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: ‘Member States and producers have a great opportunity to make the best use of the new wine regime to build on Europe’s international reputation for excellence. I truly believe this marks a turning point in our wine sector’s history.’ (To read Mariann Fischer Boel’s column on the new EU laws see this month’s issue of Decanter magazine. Subscribe here)

The money used to fund distillation subsidies will be redirected to wine promotion and the modernisation of vineyards and cellars.

The New World has seen its share of global wine sales rise from 3% in 1990 to 30% in 2008, according to the OIV.

An in-depth article explaining the new EU legislation features in this month’s Decanter magazine.

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Written by Rebecca Gibb

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