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When Is a Wine Not a Wine? When European Regulations Say It’s Not

on 30/05/12 at 9:03 am

Booze News

Poured from the bottle, the ruby-colored liquid looks like wine. Swirled around a glass, it smells like wine. Sure enough, it tastes like wine, too.

But, at least within the confines of the European Union, the closest it may come to be being called wine is “fruit-based alcoholic beverage.”

The ruling is bad news for the Chapel Down Winery, which crushed more than two tons of refrigerated Malbec grapes that had been air-freighted from Mendoza, Argentina, hoping to produce an English take on the fabled Latin American wine.

The fruit was brought here, in the lush, gentle countryside of Kent, to an estate covering 68 acres, or 28 hectares, one third of which is now covered with vines. In the winery, the juice was processed, using English equipment and techniques, and then aged for nine months in American oak barrels.

Only when it came time to bottle did Frazer Thompson, chief executive of Chapel Down, learn from officials that he had breached regulations that ban the use of grapes or grape products from outside the European Union to make wine inside it.