Two new European regulations will help monitor the movement of wine products, certify their origin and characteristics and ensure the necessary checks are carried out to prevent and address fraudulent practices. These tools will be applied at member state level, but involve considerable cross-border cooperation between countries.
The so-called “accompanying document” is one of the main tools introduced by the new regulations that will ensure the traceability of wines. Shipments of wine products will be obliged to carry an accompanying document for all transport operations, both for excise duty purposes and in order to check their conformity with the EU provisions. This document may also be used to certify a wine’s origin, characteristics, vintage or wine grape variety and its status as a protected designation of origin or protected geographical indication, if applicable.
In addition, a register recording the entry and withdrawal of each batch of wine products should be kept by individuals or companies holding wine products for commercial purposes. This register must also include the type of wines produced and information on the various parts of the wine production process.
Another important novelty included in the regulations is the introduction of a wine export certificate. This is a multi-purpose certificate that can be used as a certificate of origin, of health and of authenticity. It will also be used, for example, to share specific information about the wine, such as its registration as a protected designation of origin or protected geographical indication, its vintage year or its wine grape variety. It will also include reference to the wine’s accompanying document.
A shift towards e-certificates is also laid out in the regulations, with the aim of ending paper-based procedures and shifting completely to electronic systems by the end of 2020. This applies for the “accompanying document” and export certificate for all member states.
These regulations improve the clarity and coherence of the current legislation and bring together in one single legislative package the rules on the vineyard register, accompanying documents, certification of wine products, imports, registers to be kept by operators, production and stock declarations, as well as on authorisations for vine plantings.
Updated spirits rules also come into force
The changes to the wine rules come after other recent updates to the rules covering spirit drinks. The changes, which came into force in February 2018, will bring greater clarity on the labelling and production methods for spirits.
The first rule change establishes a new category of drinks - ‘cider and perry spirit’ - in addition to the two separate categories of ‘cider spirit’ and ‘perry spirit’, distilled exclusively from apple cider and pear-based perry respectively.
The change was necessary because a recent examination of the technical files concerning the production criteria for Calvados. This French cider spirit is one of the many European geographical indications whose name is protected, provided it is produced in accordance with strict criteria based on traditional production methods and/or location, among others. The examination of the file showed that Calvados producers have always been allowed to add perry to their cider before distillation, which means that it is not technically 100% a cider spirit or a perry spirit. A new category was therefore needed to define spirits produced from both cider and perry together, to reflect the traditional production methods for Calvados which otherwise would not have been able to be classified as a geographical indication under the Spirits Drinks Regulation.
The second change concerns the category ‘fruit spirits’ and acknowledges the widespread practice of adding suffixes to the names of fruit in various different European languages to essentially describe the same product. Plum spirit is a good example of this: the traditional product is called šljivovica in Croatian, slivovice in Czech, śliwowica in Polish, śliwowica in Romanian, slivovica in Slovak, and slivovka in Slovene. The sales denomination of these spirit drinks, under the current regulation, could only be the name of the fruit accompanied by the term 'spirit', with a few exceptions such as kirschwasser where 'kirsch' is the name of the fruit (i.e. cherry), or just the name of the fruit itself, for example mirabelle.
Both changes are part of ongoing efforts to modernise the spirit drinks regulation and bring it in line with the realities of production and labelling.
Adopted in 2008, the spirits drinks regulation aims to ensure a more systematic approach in the legislation governing spirit drinks. It sets out criteria for the production, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks, along with rules on the protection of geographical indications.
These provisions apply to all spirit drinks in the European market, including imports. The application of the regulation also covers the use of ethyl alcohol or distillates of agricultural origin in the production of alcoholic beverages and the use of names of spirit drinks in the presentation and labelling of foods.
28 February 2018