EU scuppers Anglo-Argentine collaboration

23rd March, 2012 by Andrew Catchpole

A joint winemaking project for Malbec World Day between Wines of Argentina and English producer Chapel Down has run foul of EU law.

The offending fermented grape beverage was vinified in Kent using fresh Malbec grapes from the Gaucho Restaurant Group’s Mendoza vineyards, having been air-freighted from Argentina immediately after picking during the 2011 harvest.

The resulting wine was to be released as an entertaining and hopefully palate-catching marketing exercise in the UK on Malbec World Day on 17 April.

However, as Chapel Down Group CEO Frazer Thompson explained, the project has run into a slight snag and the planned promotions in both on- and off-trade, aimed at spreading the varietal word, may now be unable to go ahead.

“Because the grapes were grown outside of the EU but the wine was made at Chapel Down we have run into a problem,” said an exasperated Thompson.

“The wine is sensational but we now have 1,100 bottles which are illegal to label or sell as either Malbec or wine.”

Aside from the point that those behind the venture should perhaps have taken a closer look at the legal small print regarding EU wine production, this protectionist clause has clearly come as a blow to those involved.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Thompson. “We could make a beer in Kent with American hops or a vodka with Russian grain, but when it comes to wine different rules clearly apply which doesn’t make sense at all.”

Thompson is hopeful that the authorities will allow the Malbec to be distributed for promotional purposes but is still stuck for a (legal) name.

An early suggestion doing the rounds on Twitter is Magnificent Argentinian Luscious Berry Engorged Concoction.

Tweet your suggestions to @teamdb.

 

2 Responses to “EU scuppers Anglo-Argentine collaboration”

  1. John Radford says:

    I said this last year when the project was first mooted on the 31st March 2011. ‘Wine’ is described as ‘the fermented juice of freshly-gathered grapes, carried out in the region of production’, and has been ever since I joined the trade in 1972. I had thought that it was an April Fool, but I was assured by one of our most eminent MWs that it was perfectly true. I thought then and I still think now that it was a ridiculous idea, not least because of the airmiles involved. The finished product is, like ‘British Fortified Wine’, legally ‘Made Wine’ or even ‘alcoholic fruit cordial’. Whoever dreamed up this silly scheme is an idiot.

  2. Frazer Thompson says:

    The idea was from Wines of Argentina. The purpose of this exercise was to celebrate World Malbec Day. And to challenge winemakers to see what could be done with Malbec. From our perspective at Chapel Down, this was a wonderful opportunity for our winemakers to meet their Argentine counterparts, exchange ideas and have some fun making a product they would never normally experience. They were able to learn, innovate and create. Exactly what good winemakers do. They did that and made friends too. We now have a terrific wine, yet it can’t be labelled to be exactly what is – A Malbec made from grapes grown in Argentina in England. Yet I can buy bottles of wine that have no information of value to a consumer in the UK. Sample bottles are available soon.

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