Our General Counsel Rachel Triggs recently attended the annual conference of the International Wine Law Association in Bordeaux.
The conference – which focused on compliance, negotiation and dispute settlement in wine law – attracted more than 250 delegates from over 20 countries. Rachel presented on a panel of wine regulators from British Columbia, Spain and France.
The take home message for Australian wine producers is that there is no room for complacency when it comes to the use of protected traditional expressions and geographical indications, such as Méthode Champenoise and Champagne. The regulatory bodies in Europe are extremely active in litigating over the misappropriation of such terms, and not just in Europe.
In recent times, criminal charges have been made against producers for misappropriation of several protected geographical indications including Châteauneuf-Du-Pape, Cahors and Château la Fleur de Reignac. The reach of the European regulatory system extends beyond wine, with the Court of Paris last year finding that use of the terms Saint-Emillon, Bordeaux, Pauillac and Pomerol in relation to tea was unlawful.
It is important to remember that European consortia and regulators can take action against members of the Australian wine sector under the Wine Australia Act 2013 where protected traditional expressions and geographical indications are incorrectly used in Australia.
So, the next time Wine Australia’s auditors are in touch about an incorrect use of a European wine term, we may be saving you from more severe action from the European regulators.