Istrian wine producers have fought back following attempts by Slovenia’s agriculture minister and the European Union to preclude Croatia from using the Teran grape on labels.
‘True Teran is Istrian’. Picture from Wines of Croatia
Olivier Arman from Franc Arman, who is one of Istria’s top Teran producers, has been lobbying through broadcast media to retain Croatia’s right to use the grape on bottles of wine sold within the European Union, and has registered the words “Teran is Istrian” as a trademark (“Teran je Istriajan” in Croatian).
As previously reported by the drinks business, Slovenia registered “Teran” as a PDO in 2009 for wine from the Kras region near the country’s border with Italy.
Croatia failed to object to this at the time, but with its accession to the EU in 1 July, the country will have to abide by the union’s laws.
As a consequence, after July, unless the dispute is resolved between the two countries, any Croatian wine labeled Teran that is sold within its own borders, and within those of the EU, will be illegal.
Last week, according to James Waddell, managing director of Croatian Fine Wines in the UK, Slovenian authorities had already ordered Croatian wine labelled Teran to be removed from shops.
Commenting on the situation, he said, “The Slovenian’s Teran brand grab is a desperate attempt to disrupt and destroy the supply of the internationally recognised world class Istrian Teran producers, when Croatia enters the EU.”
Continuing he explained, “Teran is not a region or a process of production, it is an indigenous grape found in Istria and Northern Italy, not Slovenia, and used to make Teran wine… The true Teran is Istrian.”
Indeed, Teran from Slovenia is more commonly identified as being from the Refošk grape, which is actually believed to have a different DNA.
Providing evidence that Teran and Refošk are different grapes, Judith Burns from wine importer Pacta Connect said that she brings in wine from a single producer who makes wine from both grape varieties.
“There has always been a lot of confusion over Refošk and Teran, and many people think they are the same grape. But we have one winemaker, Piquentum, who makes a Refošk and a Teran and that proves that they are two very clearly defined grapes in Istria.”
She also explained, “As our winemakers tell us, the Slovenes use Refosco (or Refošk) to produce Teran. The Istrians use Teran to produce Teran. In the ten plus years that we’ve been visiting both countries actually we have rarely seen Slovenian Teran, but have widely seen Istrian Teran. We have two Slovene winemakers now in our portfolio, neither of which uses Teran.
Burns also pointed out that Slovenia tried to block Croatia’s accession to the EU in 2009, which is just one of many political disputes between the two countries. “It is not the winemakers who are having the argument,” she pointed out.
Should Croatia be banned from using the term Teran in the EU, Burns said that some high profile UK customers would have to remove Croatian wines from their shelves or cellars, including The Hotel du Vin group and Harvey Nichols.