White wine mixed with red does not make rosé!

Brussels, 26 May 2009 – Rosé wine producers from Spain, France, Italy and Switzerland held a joint press conference in Brussels on 27 May, across the road from the European Commission. Unanimously, they communicated their total opposition to the Commission’s proposal to lift the current ban on blending white and red wines to produce rosés without indicating a geographical area. The final vote of the Member States on this draft regulation is set to take place on 19 June.

“The European Commission’s proposal is unacceptable. The rosé producers have invested a great deal of time and effort over recent years in the development of a noble product of clear high quality that has been enjoying tremendous success,”

explained Xavier de Volontat, President of France’s Association Générale de la Production Viticole (AGPV).

“What the Commission is proposing amounts to tricking the consumer, encouraging counterfeiting and drifting towards wine-growing and oenology of an industrial nature, which we reject!”

declares Jean-Jacques Bréban, President of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP) and of the Provence trade federation.

To develop a blended “rosi” wine, you start with a white wine and add 2 to 3% of red to it. This gives a wine that is similar in colour to a rosé, but with the smell and taste characteristics of the white wine that forms the base. Real rosé wine obtained through maceration is a wine in its own right created according to a specific wine-making method that is complex and delicate. The colour is in fact a result of the length of contact between the juice of the grape, which is colourless in the initial phase, and the grape skin and seeds, which is where we find the natural pigments. This is why rosé wines are essentially made from black grapes that contain natural pigments, and not white grapes. It gives them their own specific olfactory profile.

“Rosé wine produced in accordance with the current rules set by the European Union is a genuine quality product. The Commission has consistently promoted the production of quality, as evidenced by the reform of the Common Market Organisation for wine in 2008 and the publication, on 28 May, of a communication on the future of the quality policy. Now, it needs to further demonstrate its commitment. The authorisation to blend places the European Commission in direct contradiction with its own aims,”

insisted Pasquale De Moe, Director of the Fédération italienne des vins d’appellation d’origine et avec indication géographique, or FEDERDOC.

Rosé currently accounts for 8% of global wine production and 9% of consumption (source: International Organisation of Vine and Wine). 75% of rosé wines are produced in Europe, with France the largest global producer at 5.9 millions hectolitres in 2006, some 29% of world production, ahead of Italy (4.5 millions hectolitres), Spain and the United States (3.8 millions hectolitres apiece). Rosé is the colour that is gaining the most in popularity in recent years. Today, the main producing countries are also the countries with the largest consumption, but all the big production areas in the world are also showing an increasing interest in rosé.

“If approved, the proposal would have very serious consequences in terms of the economy, employment and the development of the land in numerous EU regions, but also in certain third-party countries such as Switzerland, where it makes an important contribution to the dynamism of the sector,”

declares Mme. Claude Bocquet-Thonney, President of the Association Suisse des Vignerons Encaveurs Indépendants.

Europe’s rosé producers are calling purely and simply for this plan to be scrapped and the ban on blending to be maintained. To do this, the European Commission simply needs to modify its draft regulation on “oenological practices” in respect of this point. Their request is strongly supported by tens of thousands of consumers, who have already signed petitions in several European countries, most notably France Italy and Spain.

“With the European elections a matter of days away, it would be good for the European Commission to show that it can listen to professionals and consumers. If ’Europe wishes to be close to its citizens, it must refuse to sacrifice the reputation of European products and traditions on the altar of liberalism and must protect the interests of producers when these concur with the expectations of consumers,”

concludes D. Fernando Prieto Ruiz, C.R.D.O. Valdepeñas, President of the CECRV (Conferencia Espanola de Consejos Reguladores Vitivinicolas).