A rosé by any other name raises a stink

27 June, 2007

When the story broke earlier this month that White Zinfandel and similarly named rosé wines are being black-listed by the EU, it took the UK wine trade off guard. Simon Legge of Brown-Forman told OLN: “There has been no consultation whatsoever with regard to this decision. Nor has there been any clear communication between the authorities and people like us who are required to comply with these laws.”

According to Legge, White Zinfandel has been long established as a stylistic descriptor for rosés from California, and it now enjoys widespread consumer recognition. The problem, he feels, is various “clever clogs recently pushing their luck with wines labelled White Merlot and White Syrah”. It is this proliferation of pink as “white” that set off the alarm bells in Brussels and drove regulators to ban all such “white” monikers from from the start of 2008.

“I’m not a happy bunny,” said Legge, “and I’ve asked our legal counsel to look at the possibility of contesting this decision. But I’ve also advised our winery in California that re-labelling the coming 2007 vintage as Zinfandel Rosé is likely the best course of action.” He added: “This may all turn out to be a storm in a teacup. But White Zinfandel enjoys huge popularity, and it’s possible this ruling will adversely affect sales in the UK.”

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