For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Truth in Wine Labeling: survey results released

Ever tasted a red wine which claimed to be from Burgundy on the label but tasted nothing like what you would expect from a Burgundy pinot noir? As discussed in recent posts, where a product is from is important, whether it be tea from Darjeeling, cucumbers from Lea Valley in Hertfordshire, or wines from Champagne or Chianti. With regards to wine, there is no ingredient more important than location: it is the combination of the land, air, water and weather where grapes are grown which makes each wine unique.

A particular problem has arisen in that sometimes the grapes used in a wine were not actually grown in the region claimed. For instance, one of the most commonly misused names is 'sherry', the Anglicized name for the distinctive fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown near the town of Jerez in Spain. Often what one gets in 'sherry' in UK wine shops and supermarkets does not contain grapes from Jerez nor bear any relation to the renowned wines from southern Spain. Further, in other instances, wineries from X blend 70% foreign grapes with 30% grapes from X and label it as 'Cellared In X'.

On 26 July 2005, a Declaration to Protect Wine Place and Origin (commonly known as the Napa Declaration on Place) was signed as a 'declaration of joint principles stating the importance of location to wine and the need to protect place names'. It is now supported by 15 international wine regions: Champagne, France; Chianti Classico, Italy; Jerez, Spain; Long Island, New York; Napa Valley; Oregon state; Paso Robles; Porto, Portugal; Rioja, Spain; Sonoma County; Tokaj, Hungary; Victoria, Australia; Walla Walla Valley, Washington; Washington state; and Western Australia.

On behalf of the signatories to the Declaration, Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey of 1,000 wine drinkers. The results were released last week and report that:

  • 70% would be less likely to buy wines with misleading labels;
  • 79% consider the region where a wine comes from an important factor when buying a bottle of wine;
  • 75% would be less likely to buy a wine if they learned that it claimed to be from a place like Champagne, Napa Valley or Oregon, but was not;
  • 84% say the region a wine comes from is extremely important in determining its quality;
  • 96% say consumers deserve to know that the location where wine grapes are grown is accurately stated on wine labels; and
  • 98% support establishing worldwide standards for all winemakers that would require that they accurately state the location where wine grapes are grown on wine labels.
The IPKat agrees that, when a place name is misused on a wine label, some of the distinctive character of that wine region is lost.

Merpel, with her refined palate, thinks that life is too short to drink incorrectly labelled wine: if it says Champagne on the label, it better be Champagne in the bottle!

3 comments:

Birgit Clark said...

Cat the Kat is back ! :)

Patricia Covarrubia said...

I wonder how this will work in Washington where you can drink 'champagne' that does not come actually from Champagne! Will they follow the principle: protect the integrity of the place names?

Hans Sachs said...

It just so happens that this blog has just been discussing Lea Valley Cucumbers.

Now, by divine coincidence, Cat the Kat has just returned to the IPKat cattery amidst much flattery.

So, suppose that Catharine Lee should decide to set up a cottage industry in Cambridge for the purpose of producing the perfect cucumber.

Should she be prevented from selling “Lee Cucumbers”?

Let’s face it. This geographic indication ("GI") business is going too far. Many GI "appellations" have become generic. Think of sherry, port, bourbon, parmesan, cheddar, English muffins, Russian roulette, etc.

Think of Siamese cats. Burmese cats. Himalayan cats. Cheshire cats. Will they all become illegal if born, bred, and sold outside of their geographical “appellation”? And what would be the remedy? Injunction against further reproduction? Delivery up and destruction? Will this require a reference to the ECJ (European Cat Judiciary)?

It’s time for a paws in this purrsuit of purrfection.

Hans Sachs

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