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.)