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When is a Quality Wine not a Quality Wine?

Published:  23 July, 2008

UKVA calls for status review

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), has blocked a request by the English and Welsh Vineyards' Association to permit the use of new German interspecific cross-vine varieties in the production of "Quality Wine". The UKVA made its request in the wake of a successful plea for acceptance of the varieties at the German state office for plant certification (Bundessortenamt) two years ago. The German body decided to accept the 13 varieties after examining them for "non-vinifera" traits. The body's scientists found that, apart from the vines' improved resistance to disease (which was excluded from the trial's parameters), there was nothing to separate them from their pure vinifera cousins. They therefore classified them as "vinifera". Four of the varieties now permitted in Germany - Orion, Rondo, Phoenix and Regent - have been grown in the UK for some years but are currently permitted only "table wine" classifications. "There is no reason at all why wine from these excellent new varieties should not be classified as English or Welsh Quality Wines," said UKVA chairman, Stephen Skelton, who is looking to MAFF to speed up its investigations. "They keep saying they are short staffed due to the foot-and-mouth crisis, but I see this as a rather lame excuse. Our growers must be encouraged to produce high-quality wine and if it is high quality, to be able to call it that, whatever variety it is made from."