Monday, 11 March 2019

11.3.19 BIB Issue Complicates Possible Regulation Changes

The proposed changes to the regulations in the Marco de Jerez are not going as smoothly as might have been hoped. The commission set up by the Consejo Regulador to find agreed solutions to long debated matters like the extension of the Zona de Crianza to cover the Zona de Producción, regulation of bulk wines and the prohibition of Fino from Sanlúcar has encountered two more stumbling blocks. Firstly Chiclana has decided against the extension of the Crianza Zone, something which the cooperatives are in favour of, and secondly a deal between the Trebujena coop, Virgen de Palomares, with Argüeso in Sanlúcar to sell its Manzanilla "La E" in BIB and labelled as Fino.

These two problems are linked since the assignment of "La E" to Virgen de Palomares has a precedent in that some time ago the Consejo authorised the use of protected terms like Fino for sale in BIB to the bodegas in Chiclana who were threatening to leave the DO. Virtually all of this was sold locally. This has of course created a legal loophole which Virgen de Palomares and Argüeso are taking advantage of. 

Chiclana´s decision, adopted by the Unión de Viticultores Chiclaneros and the four bodegas (Primitivo Collantes, Miguel Guerra, Vélez and Manuel Aragón), is logical since they want to retain the nearly 20 year old custom of supplying wine in BIB to the local hotel and catering trade. The Virgen de Palomares and Argüeso agreement, made so as to continue selling wine in BIB, has ruffled a few feathers in the trade however, and is regarded as opportunistic and neither helpful to Virgen de Palomares nor the other cooperatives in securing Zona de Crianza status.

Although this strategy is legal, and the Consejo thus had no option but to issue DO seals for this Manzanilla converted into Fino from Trebujena, other firms with interests in Manzanilla consider it to be unfair competition which will confuse consumers, mainly in Sevilla where it is popular. Cooperative sources admit that it is a delicate matter, the more so since the High Court of Andalucía ruled against use of BIB for DO wines. They say that despite it being a private commercial decision, the other coops have expressed their worries to the president of Virgen de Palomares about the repercussions it could have in the negotiations on changes in the regulations and the dispensation enjoyed by Chiclana, and they have asked him to stop selling it.

Meanwhile the growers have been considering the proposals of the cooperatives to extend the Zona de Crianza to cover the Zona de Producción and to continue selling bulk wine to see if they can find agreement to defend their mutual interests, often diametrically opposed to those of Fedejerez. The growers´main concerns are guaranteeing a decent price for their grapes by substituting the current flat rate payment per kilo for a system which rewards quality. The Consejo´s commission still has a long hard road ahead.

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