French and US in rows over 'chateau' wine label

26th September 2012 - Fine Cut

It was a victory for France yesterday (September 25) in the war of the wines, as the European Union ruled that the US wine companies aren't allowed to use the 'chateau' label on their bottles.

The European Union dismissed pleas from US winemakers to use the term on their bottles - saying it would be 'cheating customers' who may be confused about the origin of the wine.

The 'chateau' label has long been used in France to show the origin of the wine and to highlight the country's long tradition.

Agriculture officials from 27 member states were due to meet in Brussels yesterday, according to, to consider a change in the rule, requested by Washington. However the EU said that no vote would now be taken, although discussions would continue.

The European Commission, which is the EU's executive arm, recommended that the US request should be granted. French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll also admitted that he wasn't confident Paris would be able to stop the rule change, saying that 'difficult talks' were taking place.

He told "France is particularly attached to the denomination 'chateau' which has a special meaning for us in terms of wine, but other countries are much less so. We are in difficult talks."

Georges Haussalter, the president of the Bordeaux winemakers' council (CIVB) also said that the word 'chateau' related to where the wine was produced in the region, whereas the American definition would be 'very loose'. 

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