Hello yes, and welcome back to another chapter of the slightly drunk in the garage reflective blog, part 2 of the weekday edition. The clock has struck 12 which means it is now a socially acceptable time to continue on our journey. This afternoon I have selected from my dwindling cellar, a 2017 Hillersden Estate Pinot Noir from right here in Marlborough. A light bodied wine which apparently pairs well with roasted meat, duck and earthy mushrooms. It also seems to pair well with ready salted potato chips and beetroot hummus. And so, With my glass half full and my bag of chips half empty I’m ready to commence an engaging discussion on todays topic, Wine labelling and GI laws. Here we go.
Head on down to the local supermarket and take a stroll down the aisle of wines. If you’re in luck there maybe a sales person pitching their product by offering free samples. After pretending to be interested in their pitch to get more than a couple of of these tasting samples, take a look around. There are so many different labels of varying shapes and sizes, all designed to hopefully grab your attention and therefore your money. But looking past the pretty pictures and fancy fonts, there is yet another layer. The layer of the law.
Aside from an individual countries laws, there is an international standard that many countries have signed up to. The OIV or, the organisation of wine and vine, (previously known as Salon de l’Horloge) is a group established in France back in 1924 to regulate and protect both the growing wine industry and the consumer. As of 2013, 45 member states from Algeria to Uzbekistan, (including New Zealand), had signed up to the organisation. The OIV have produced a list of compulsory standards for the information that must be on a wine label that all member countries follow. Some of this compulsory information includes, but is not limited to, the denomination of the product, information of alcohol content, any additives that are not present in a wines natural state in significant quantities, nominal capacity and GI or geographical indicators. The most restrictive rules apply to GI, vintage and variety of the product. A country may also choose to add their own labelling standards to compliment those of the OIV, with some countries requiring a very different set of information or even label style than that of others. New Zealand for example, it is mandatory to include on your label the amount of standard alcoholic drinks within a bottle and any allergens that may also be present within the product. However NZ is relatively relaxed when compared to countries like the UK or South Africa for example, who have very strict, set rules around the information or even style of label used. This may require a producer to totally rethink a label to still keep it aesthetically pleasing to the potential consumer and adhere to the corresponding laws of that country as well as the OIV standards.
With all that said, and I could go on, I feel I should now touch briefly on GIs. What is a geographical indicator and why is this important?
A GI is a sign used on a label to help a consumer identify and assure them a product is from a specific geographical location which may possess a quality, reputation or a specific characteristic that is unique to that location. This can help add value to, and protect a brand as well as differentiate itself from others that maybe trying to cash in on certain qualities of a particular region. For instance, two bottles of wine, one a dirty Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand could be a blend from anywhere in NZ. And a second bottle of Sauvignon with a registered GI from Marlborough indicates that at least 85% of the fruit in that wine has come from that GI. Laws around obtaining a registered GI in NZ include, as mentioned, 85% of that product must be from within that particular GIs region with any additional fruit being sourced from within NZ. Users of a GI must remain within boundaries which are consistent with their claims. A GI is a form of intellectual property. However, unlike other intellectual property rights, there is no ownership as there is with trademarks. This allows anyone to apply for, and use a particular GI providing they comply with the provisions governing the use of that GI.
In conclusion, there is a whole mind f*%k of legislation, guidelines and standards around the use of labels in different markets. It really seems that a producer needs to sit down and have a good hard think about how difficult they want to make their lives when choosing a label. A simple label that covers many bases may end up being more financially beneficial than a fancy pants label, as minimal changes should be needed between markets if it has been designed with intelligence and not by a student with a bucket full of coloured markers. On the other hand Geographical Indicators seem reletively easy to understand and a very beneficial asset to have when marketing and selling your product. Espescially if a producer has found themselves lucky enough to be located in a region that is well known for exceptional and unique qualities. The legislation is reasonably straight forward and registration to use a GI is reletively cheap in the greater scheme of things when taking into account a regions ability to sell a product just on location alone. My wine bottle is now empty. Cheers.
Published by Adrian Green.