Anger over US demands to export 'chateau' wine to EU

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MEPs have urged the Commission to reject demands by the US to relax the rules on the labelling of wine exports to the EU.

US winemakers want to be allowed to use the designations "château" or "clos", a practice that was legal for a trial period between 2006 and 2009.

In a statement to the European Parliament on 6 February 2013, Commissioner Algirdas Semeta said the Commission was "aware of the opposition" to the US requests, but that no decision had yet been made.

A decision by the Commission's Wine Management Committee was due in September but has been delayed after complaints from producers in the Bordeaux region.

Winemakers from many EU countries claim the US definition of "château" and "clos" can be used to describe wines made from grapes from multiples sources, unlike the stricter labelling laws that govern wines from countries including France, Spain and Luxembourg.

"Let's not sell off our heritage," warned French Liberal MEP Nathalie Griesbeck.

Meanwhile Luxembourg centre-right MEP Astrid Lulling said the US demands would "damage our very prestigious wines", stating, "you can never make concessions like this to the US".

There were also concerns that the practice may spread to other types of wine, with Portuguese MEP Maria Patrao Neves warning there could be an influx of US-produced port.

Italian MEP Sergio Palo Silvestris said it would lead to an influx of cheap or even home produced wine from the US, being labelled as historic European wines.

"If that is wine, then I'm Father Christmas!" he proclaimed.

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