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The Wine Standards Board closes

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Wine Standards Board (WSB) ceased to exist on 30 June after 33 years. Responsibility for wine inspection and the implementation of the European Union (EU) wine regulations in the UK has passed to the Food Standards Board (FSA).

Board chief executive Alan Curran and the team of nine inspectors have all transferred to the FSA.

Board chairman, Christopher Roberts, stated in the WSB's annual report: The FSA will doubtless want to involve themselves more than was possible for the WSB in the work of the Wine Management Committee in Brussels, which advises the commission on the rules which are applied to wine across the European Union. There is much to be said for those who have to enforce any set of regulations taking an active role in shaping them.

The WSB has aimed to achieve a fair balance between the interests of wine consumers - for example, in being confident that what they read on the label is what they find in the glass - and of the wine trade, in not being hassled by unnecessary bureaucratic interference. I believe that, for most, if not all the time, we have achieved this balance.

There will be advantages for wine inspection in becoming part of a much bigger organisation able to draw on wider experience and resources than those available to the WSB, with just 10 members of staff.'

Curran said in his chief executive's report that implementation of allergen labelling requirements proved fairly uneventful' but that colour descriptors continue to tax the imagination, particularly in the context of ros wines'.

White Zinfandel has been in use for some time and is a term allowed by the US authorities to describe the style of the wine. Such terms, where no specific grape variety exists, have the potential to confuse the consumer and are potentially in conflict with the European philosophy of wine labelling.'

John Boodle in his technical inspector's review stated that the main changes have been

the loosening of restrictions

on wines from non-EU countries. The EC-US bilateral agreement allows wines exceeding 15% total alcohol to be imported, while an amendment to the agreement with Chile has made it possible for wines to be described by various traditional terms' including Gran Reserva.

Inspectors made 1,509 visits in the year 2005-6 and 165 temporary movement controls were issued. The most frequent offences related to alcohol levels above the permitted maximum; lack of importer details; and missing or faulty import documentation.

There were 353 vineyards registered at the start of the

year and 91 producers. There was a net increase in area for the first time for several years, coming from additional plantings at existing vineyards and 32 new vineyards.