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Allegrini 2018
CASE IN POINT

Dura lex sed lex: French Vermentino looking for another name. “Rolle” is an option

The grape vine, which gives its name to two Sardinian denominations, cannot be mentioned on the label. Vignerons are looking for a “creative” solution

The protection of geographical indications is one of the cornerstones of the success and defense of the innumerable European agro-food productions around the world. And, one of these is wine, which regularly ends up being “attacked”, and that Prosecco knows only too well, as it has dozens of imitations around the world, and Champagne, even more. It has often been the case that a controversy has started right within the borders of the European Union.
The mother of all battles, at least regarding Italian winemaking, was Tocai, the most iconic white wine and grape from Friuli Venezia-Giulia. Since 2008, it has been forced to call itself Friulano, because it had to bow to the EU ruling, which recognized the birthright of the Hungarian Tokaji. The battle between Italian Prosecco and Prosek is recent - it has been ongoing for months, and hopefully, a solution will be to find as soon as possible.
The case of Vermentino has raised less uproar, at least internationally. It has become a true commercial phenomenon in France recently, but French wine producers are not allowed to mention it on the label.
Many people were astonished when the authorities in charge had to remind the vignerons that the European regulation on labeling, which as been in effect since 2018, does not allow the use of terms that are part of existing geographical indications. In this case, we are talking about two Sardinian denominations: Vermentino di Gallura and Vermentino di Sardegna.
There is, therefore, not much French winemakers can do, because these are the same rules that protect their excellent products, too. Although, as the Languedoc producers like to remind everyone, the vast majority of international vines, which everyone can mention, produce and promote, are in fact vines of French origin.
The “Vitisphere” site proposed a solution, which is to adopt one of the many names of Vermentino; and that is, Rolle, as it has been known in Provence for over a century. The Languedoc vignerons are not very enthusiastic about this solution because it would require large investments to implement and promote. But, they are necessary to continue working in the wake of the shared rules that wine producers have self-imposed.

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