≡ Menu

Australia Adopts EU’s Geographical Indication System

This last week, Australia signed an agreement with the European Union to comply with the geographical indication (“GI”) system of the EU. The new agreement replaces an agreement signed in 1994 between the two wine powers and protects eleven of the EU drink labels and 112 of the Australian GI’s. Specifically, this means that many of the wine products produced in Australia that were previously labeled according to European names, such as sherry and tokay, will no longer be labeled under these names. Wine producers in Australia will have three years to “phase out” the use of such names on labels. Australian labels that will be discontinued include amontillado, Auslese, burgundy, chablis, champagne, claret, marsala, moselle, port, and sherry.

Australia will also have the benefit of continuing to use quality terms including cream, ruby, tawny, and vintage for their wine products that are exported to the EU. The agreement also allows for an “easier access” to the European wine market for Australian wineries. Additionally, Australian government officials state the new agreement creates more flexible rules on blending alcohol content and a simpler labeling system for wine producers. Australian winemakers will not have to create different blends for wines sold in Australia and European exports. (Previously, the EU banned importation of any wine product that was made under methods, including reverse osmosis and the adding of oak chips, not approved by the EU.)

In 2009, Australia exported a total of  €643 million worth of wine to the EU. Europe is the largest market for Australian wine products and, given the favorable outcome of this new agreement to both powers, is likely to remain so. The European Commission reported that the EU exported a total of €68 million worth of wine to Australian in 2009. (See Australia Confirms it is a World Wine Power and Agrees to Labeling with the EU.)

(See additional sources: Australia Corks its Use of “Champagne”; Naming Bubble Pops for Aussie Drops; Fresh Drinks for a Night at the Apera.)

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice.


Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Baffe September 4, 2010, 6:23 AM

    A wine lawyer is a good lawyer.

  • laclasse September 4, 2010, 10:08 AM

    About time.
    Australia wines are of unique style and substance, so are the ones of France. Having identical naming for something completely different, and utterly not comparable, was a misrepresentation and confusing for the people starting on wine knowledge, not mentioning diluting and misrepresenting the original area of production.
    It is about time Australia is recognized for their own wine styles, and that their new name start to resonate i the head of wine lovers.

  • Tom Keddie September 5, 2010, 11:14 AM

    On overview of the 1994 agreement would be useful. That was a much more dramatic change (I thought burgundy was in that agreement).

  • Lindsey A. Zahn September 6, 2010, 7:37 PM

    Thank you, Tom. I will definitely consider writing an upcoming post on the 1994 agreement. The 1994 agreement did name Burgundy (as well as several other GIs), but the latest agreement sets a clear date for which Australia must “phase out” using the names of said GIs. For those GIs mentioned in the 1994 agreement, Australia has a 12-month “phase out” period from using those GIs. See http://www.delaus.ec.europa.eu/eu_and_australia/wineagreement/index.htm as well as https://promo-manager.server-secure.com/em/message/email/view.php?id=144847&u=1002559

Leave a Comment