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EU puts organic wine on ice

>> Tuesday, July 27, 2010

There will be no new rules on what is meant by organic (biologique / ecologic) wines in the EU. Today, the only thing that a wine producer formally can say is that his wine is “made from organically grown grapes”. There is, formally, no such thing as “organic wine” in the EU. Rules exist for what can be done in the vineyard but there are no rules for what practices or substances are allowed in the winery for the vinification.

For more than a year the EU has had a project with the aim to define this so that there would be a common definition of what “organic wine” means. However, on May 16 the EU agricultural commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, decided to pull the project, or at least put it on ice. The countries that have participated in the project have not been able to agree on what rules should be used for “organic wine”, what practices and substances should be allowed in the wine cellar. So instead of putting forward a watered down proposal the commissioner chose to cancel the proposal altogether. The major obstacle was, according to Vitisphere, the levels of sulphur that should be permitted.

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A great shame, we think, but perhaps not unexpected, considering the vastly diverging views on winemaking in the different EU countries and the very strong vested interests and protectionist tendencies that pop up as soon as agricultural policy and wine growing policy is discussed in the EU.

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