The decision granting Somerset Cider
Brandy EU protection under the protected geographical
indication (PGI) scheme was announced back in September
2011, but only this week due to parliamentary
procedures did the legal protection come into force
with the publication of the amending regulation in the
Official Journal of the European Union. Commission
Regulation No 164/2012 of 24 February 2012 amending
Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European
Parliament and of the Council on the definition,
description, presentation, labelling and the protection of
geographical indications of spirit drinks states that
Somerset Cider Brandy now has legally protected PGI status
and this change shall be binding in its entirety and
directly applicable in all Member States.
Cider Brandy is well established in the United Kingdom and
has been known to consumers as cider brandy for
a significant period of time, the regulation reads. It
enjoys a high reputation and forms an essential part of the
heritage of the county of Somerset.
But there is a condition to its protection:
because Somerset Cider Brandy is not well known in the
rest of the Union it must be accompanied with the
designation cider spirit on the label to
make the consumer aware of the true nature of the product in
all Member States, thus avoiding any risk of confusion.
The decision in September concluded a
four-year long campaign headed by South West MEP Sir Graham
Watson to correct an gross oversight and protect
a local tipple. To celebrate its recent award of EU PGI
protected status, renowned artist Damien Hirst even designed
a special label for the drink.
It seems that the Spanish are furious and claim that the EU is
showing double standards in allowing Britain this victory.
In essence they (the Consejo Regulador for Brandy de Jerez) say
this is a sort of British revenge for their (Spanish) success
against British sherry years ago...
Drinkers raise a glass after
Thursday, September 15, 2011 Western Morning
One of the South West's best-loved tipples has been
given the highest level of EU protection after MEPs ruled it is a
regional product. Somerset Cider Brandy has been awarded Protected
Geographical Indication (PGI) status which will protect the age-old
product from being removed from the official brandy definition list
again. The local drink was previously removed from the list in 2007
in an EU 'blunder' which meant the product would have to be branded
"cider spirit" because officials in Brussels had never
heard of it. But, following a four-year legal battle, the drink has
been reinstated. "We now have a legal name again, but more
importantly, we have a future," said Julian Temperley of
Somerset Distillery. Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West, Graham
Watson, said he has been serving the drink to the Commission
President, Jose Manuel Barosso, and battling with member states such
as Spain, which were keen to protect their own brandy producers, for
four years. "This is excellent news that all 27 member states
are supporting PGI status for Cider Brandy," he said. "We
have achieved a victory against a modern-day Spanish Armada."
The drink joins other Westcountry produce with PGI status such as
Exmoor blue cheese and the Cornish pasty.
Drink up thy brandy...
Thursday, September 15, 2011 Western Daily
Anyone lucky enough to taste Julian Temperley's
Somerset Cider Brandy will know that it is a top quality product
made with skill that perfectly reflects the fruit of the Westcountry
orchards from where its raw material Somerset cider apples
are sourced. So the confirmation that, with the help of Lib Dem Euro
MP Sir Graham Watson, Somerset Cider Brandy has been granted
European Union Protected Geographical Indication status (PGI) is
excellent news and well-deserved. It was also essential to ensure
the future of the tipple that PGI status was bestowed. Four years
ago cider brandy was left off the list of products that could call
themselves "brandy" thanks to an oversight during a
review. It took a great deal of lobbying and a tot or two of
the famous Somerset drink, served up to European Commission
president Jose Manuel Barosso to finally get the Eurocrats to
see sense. The Westcountry is increasingly gaining a reputation for
fine food and drink. Official recognition doesn't make it taste any
better. But it protects the producers and encourages them to
Ambush in Brussels
On April the 9th, 12 hours before our PGI approval
was due to be granted, and after two years of talking, three
surprise objections were received by the Commission in Brussels. One
from Italy, one from Spain and one from the European Spirit
Producers (SEPS). At the moment we are unsure who is organizing
this. It smells like a problem from the Scots Whisky Association.
They deny it, but they have form, but it maybe the French, or both.
In due course we will find out and try to convince the objectors
that Somerset Cider Brandy is not going to destroy any part of their
country, and if we fail we will have to go back to the Commission
and then have another vote by the Spirits Committee. In the meantime
we will continue as if the hounds from hell are not baying at our
gates. One way or another I have every confidence that we will win.
On May 1st 2009, DEFRA phoned to tell us that from
May 20th 2009 the words "Cider Brandy" will be illegal!
For the moment, while our application for PGI status for Someret
Cider Brandy is still being considered, Brussels has told DEFRA to
keep their dogs tied up. If current timetables are correct we should
know our fate by April 10th - watch this space...
Last Autumn we had another problem with Brussels.
The Commission decided to rewrite the 197 pages of spirit
regulations which define all the spirits produced in the EC. They
wanted to keep the words 'cider brandy', which are in the current
regulations, but 5 wine making states objected. As a result the
words cider brandy were dropped.
We have had to approach the Commission ourselves and have been
hugely helped by one of our regional MEPs, Graham Watson, who has
always been a great support. He now heads the European Liberal
Democrats and his 102 MEPs hold the balance of power in Strasbourg.
We had a meeting with the Commission and, while they declined to
amend the regulation they promised to support a Somerset Cider
Brandy application for PGI status. This may take two years and
hopefully we will end up with Somerset Cider Brandy having the same
legal protection as Calvados or Champagne. (The local Tory and UKIP
MEPs were of no help).
In what we think is a huge coup the Calvados producers association
wrote to the Commission in our support and their letter completely
destroys any future objections from the French government. So for
the next two years it's fingers crossed!