Close observers of the inner workings of the relevant bureaucracies in Australia and the EU will be aware of the seemingly interminable twice-yearly meetings between the two camps, straight from Yes, Minister. Those of cynical bent noticed that the sessions were always held in the summer of the host country, and wondered whether there was any feeling of urgency. However, the necessary piece of legislation to amend the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act and the Trademarks Act was introduced into the Australian parliament in June 2009, with all the discussion over, and only the formalities to be tied up.
Or so it seemed. For at the very last moment, the Italians objected to the use of Italian varietal names, including sangiovese and nebbiolo, on Australian wines even where those words were clearly descriptive of the variety used, and nothing else. These objections had never been raised during the negotiations when other varietal names were discussed, and it was agreed that their use would not be restricted in Australia. Quite rightly, the Australian negotiating team made it clear it was a no-go issue so far as Australia was concerned. The message got through to the EU, which in March this year amended its regulations to make it clear the use of Italian grape variety names is permitted. So after almost 10 years the wine agreement with the EU will come into force before the end of this year after passage through the Australian parliament (hopefully) by June.