Australia’s blending rules are outlined in sections 25, 26 and 27 of the Regulations and prescribe the minimum compositional requirements for making vintage, variety and GI claims. Compliance with the blending rules is monitored through the LIP. There are various offences under the Act that apply to the sale and export of wine that does not comply with the blending rules.
The table below provides a summary of the blending rules. Any claim must be listed in descending order of its proportion in the wine.
A vintage is the year in which the grapes were harvested. In the case of fruit harvested after September 1 in a calendar year and on or before December 31, the following calendar year is the effective vintage date. Be careful about using other dates on labels to avoid misleading as to the vintage of the wine.
Only grape varieties recognised by one of the following organisations are permitted to be claimed on Australian wine labels:
- OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine)
- UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants)
- IPGRI (International Plant Genetic Resources Institute).
Only variety names or their synonyms that appear on one of these lists may be claimed on labels. Made up names that resemble varieties, such as ‘Savvy’ for Sauvignon Blanc cannot be used.
The OIV list of vine varieties and their synonyms permitted for use by Australia can be downloaded from the Wine Australia website.
A geographical indication (GI) is a word or expression used in the description and presentation of a wine that identifies the goods as originating in a country, or in a region or locality in that country, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the wine is essentially attributable to their geographical origin.
GIs protected under Australian law are published in the Register of Protected Geographical Indications and Other Terms which is maintained by Wine Australia.
Exported ‘wine products’ are not permitted to include a geographical indication (other than ‘Australia’) in their description and presentation.
Description and presentation
The Register contains protected Australian and European GIs and other terms including European traditional expressions, Australian fortified wine terms and additional terms.
Part VIB of the Act makes it an offence to sell, export or import a wine described or presented with a term on the Register that it is not entitled to. The rules apply even when a protected term is accompanied by expressions such as ‘kind’, ‘type’, ‘style’, ‘imitation’, ‘method’, or any such similar expression, and even when a term ‘so resembles’ a protected term in a way that is likely to mislead. Accordingly, descriptors such as ‘Barossa style’ or ‘Champagne method’ are not permitted, regardless of whether they are likely to mislead as to origin.
There are exceptions to the offence provisions for:
- GIs registered for more than one place
- inclusion of the name of an individual who manufactured, sold, exported or imported the wine
- inclusion of the address of a winery at which the wine was manufactured
- common English words that are used in good faith and where the label indicates the true origin of the wine.
Read more on frequently asked questions about using protected terms here. Below are some examples of labels described and presented with GIs in breach of the Act.