Food Law News - EU - 2001

Commission Press Release (IP/01/603), 25 April 2001

WINE - Commission agrees rules to permit marketing of Canadian "Icewine"

The European Commission agreed provisions to admit into the EU Canadian "Icewine", a specialised dessert wine made from grapes frozen on the vine at the end of the season. Welcoming the development, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries Franz Fischler said "EU winemaking rules are designed to underpin wine as a quality product. The EU market is open to all genuine wines from around the world on the same basis as EU wines."

In addition, the English term "Icewine", traditionally used to describe the Canadian product, will be exclusively protected on the EU market for this imported wine. Wine made from frozen grapes originates from Austria and Germany and the term "Eiswein" is similarly protected.

While Canada had sought access for Icewine for many years, it was only in summer 2000 that the public authorities in Canada set down enforceable standards for its production, following agreement between producers in Canada, Germany and Austria on an international standard for production of this specialised wine. Commissioner Fischler said: " I am pleased that Canada has adopted a responsible regulatory approach to winemaking in general. This will contribute to ensuring that consumers eveywhere will continue to recognise wine as a quality product."

The EU has a number of concerns about access to the Canadian market, including the practice of selling non-European wines under EU names and terms such as Port, Bordeaux, Chablis and Amontillado, and the discriminatory trading practices of the Canadian alcohol monopolies. The Commissoner said, "Lyle Vanclief, Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and I intend to make progress on a bilateral wine agreement, which should resolve the concerns of each side. We shall be following developments closely".

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