Labelling law change: Australian ‘sherry’ and ‘port’ forbidden

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 30th November 2011

A change to the Wine Australia Corporation Act 1980 means that from now on, ‘Sherry’ produced in Australia must no longer be called “sherry” but can be called ‘Cream, crusted/crusting and solera fortified’; and ‘Port’ is now called ‘Vintage, ruby and tawny fortified’. It is also possible for Australian wine-makers to invent their own descriptor or trademark as another option.

The change in law was included in an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) report released last week, titled ‘Shipments of Wine and Brandy in Australia by Australian Winemakers and Importers, September 2011’.

The law change was made by amendments to the Wine Australia Corporation Act, which prescribes labelling conditions relating to geographical indications. Australia is a party to a treaty signed during the 1990s implemented by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation under commitments made by Australian and the EU. Geographical indications and national traditional terms of winemaking were originally intended to have been protected by 1997. However, the legislative processes in Australia and in the EU have been proceeding slowly.

The word ‘sherry’ is an anglicisation of Jerez, a municipality in Spain where the white grapes traditionally used to make the drink are grown. ‘Port’ is a drink defined by its origin in the northern provinces of Portugal, near Porto.

Other examples of geographical indications include the term ‘Champagne’, which famously refers to wine produced exclusively within the Champagne region of France.