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US wines blocked by EU over name agreement

US wines which use terms including 'chateau' or 'clos' on their labels will be banned from the EU due to regulations restricting the use of traditional wine terms.

The ban on traditional wine terms has been in effect since March 2009

As part of the agreement, US wines which display the terms ‘chateau’, ‘classic’, ‘clos’, ‘cream’, ‘crusted/crusting’,’fine’, ‘late bottled vintage’, ‘noble’, ‘ruby’, ‘superior’, ‘sur lie’, ‘tawny’, ‘vintage’ and ‘vintage character’ will be blocked from entering Europe.

‘By letter dated 8 September 2008, the EU notified the US that the period should not be extended beyond 10 March 2009,’ Carole Michmacher, EU Press Adviser Agriculture & Fisheries, told decanter.com.

The move has caused confusion and worry in the US.

‘People are nervous about shipping wine to Europe,’ said Bill Nelson, President of WineAmerica, a Washington DC wine lobby group with 800 members from 48 states. ‘It’s not clear what Congress plans to do yet

Even within the EU, certain terms are defined differently from country to country, Nelson said. ‘Spätlese in Austria is not the same as spätlese in Germany.’

It is still unclear whether or not registered trademarks will be affected.

Wineries that incorporate these terms within their trademarks (including Clos du Val and Chateau St. Michelle) are concerned,[as to whether or not the ruling] applies to the use of these terms within trademarks,’ said Joe Rollo, Director of International Trade Policy for the Wine Institute.

Mary Ann Vangrin, public relations director at Clos du Val in Napa Valley, said the winery was working on ‘re-establishing our trademarks in those EU countries where we have been trading’. She said it was ‘ironic’ that the winery had ‘such French roots’ and that Clos du Val’s co-founder, Bernard Portet, is also French.

According to the Wine Institute, the EU has requested that the US provide its own definitions for such terms before possibly lifting the restriction. Nelson said his group submitted such definitions in ‘early April’ but has not heard back from the EU.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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