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May 19, 2009

Burgundy, champagne, sherry, port, tokay, vermouth and marsala have all started to disappear from Australian wine labels following an agreement over protected names with the European Union.

The deal is expected to be enshrined in law within weeks, giving producers 12 months to amend their marketing and packaging.

The first winery to make changes is the family-owned Pfeiffer Wines in Victoria, which is now marketing its tokay product as topaque - a name chosen by the industry from a shortlist of possibilities.

It is also preparing to rebrand its sherry product as apera - another industry-approved name which is supposed to signify the drink's suitability as an aperitif.

Descriptors such as fino or amontillado will also be banned. Instead, producers will have to use terms such as dry or medium sweet.

Port will be relabelled as vintage or tawny fortified wine, while vermouth and marsala will be described as flavoured fortified wines.