Case Law Of The Court Of Justice Of European Union: A Visit To The Wine Cellar

Author:Alina Mihaela Conea
LESIJ NO. XXV, VOL. 2/2018
Alina Mihaela CONEA
It must be observed that a quality wine is a very specific product. Its particular qualities and
characteristics, which result from a combination of natural and human factors, are linked to its
geographical area of origin and vigilance must be exercised and efforts made in order for them to be
maintained. (Court of Justice of European Union, Rioja Wine Judgement)
The present paper will consider some of the most relevant judgements of the Court of Justice of
European Union regarding wine. Coincidentally or not many of these cases are also landmark
decisions of the European Union law.
The purpose of this paper is to present the variety of European Union law areas enriched through
the Court wine judgments: intellectual property, free movement of goods, fiscal barrier to trade, EU
legal order, fundamental rights, public health and external relations.
Surveying the wine jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of European Union resembles a wine
testing. One can sense the savours rich bouquet that the case law expresses, on strong cultural choices,
policies, lifestyle or identity at national and European level.
Keywords: wine, Court of Justice of Eu ropean Union, intellectual property, international
agreement, taxation.
1. Introduction
The European Union is the world
leading producer of wine
. Almost half of
the world’s vineyards are in the European
Union (EU) and the EU pr oduces and
consumes around 60% of the world’s wine
Assistant Lecturer, PhD, Faculty of Law, “Nicolae Titulescu” University, B ucharest (e-mail:
Judgment of the Court of 16 May 2000, Kingdom of Belgium v Kingdom of Spain (Rioja wine), Case C-388/95,
ECLI:EU:C:2000:244, p. 57.
According to European Commision, it accounts for 45% of world wine-growing areas, 65% of production, 57%
of global consumption and 70% of exports in global terms,
Meloni, Giulia and Swinnen, Johan F. M., The Political Economy of European Wine Regulations (October 17,
2012). Available at SSRN: or
The basic two regulations are: Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council
of 17 December, establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council
Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007 (CMO Regulation):
and Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the
financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy and repealing Council Regulations (EEC)
No 352/78, (EC) No 165/94, (EC) No 2799/98, (EC) No 814/2000, (EC) No 1290/2005 and (EC) No 485/2008.
Therefore, wine is a complex and vivid
area of EU law. A simple search of word
wine on EUR-Lex shows 19066 results.
When refined, EUR-Lex displays 2466
results on Legislation and wine subject, of
which 2120 regulations and 12 directives. If
the search is refined by author (Council of
the European Union) and regarding onl y
regulations the result is 547
. When search
140 Lex ET Scientia International Journal
LESIJ NO. XXV, VOL. 2/2018
for the subject matter wine in the EU case
law, in the form of Judgments, the number
of results is 120. This paper is, accordingly,
only a survey of the case law, based on an
ample specialized literature.
The present paper will consider only
some of the most relevant judgements of the
Court of Justice of European Union
regarding wine. Coincidentally or not many
of these cases are also landmark decisions,
shaping the EU law. What we find
remarkable is the relevance and impact of
the wine cases over different fields of EU
law. The purpose of this paper is to present
this variety of EU la w areas enriched
through the Court wine judgments:
intellectual property (Capitol 2),
fundamental rights ( Capitol 3), EU legal
order (Capitol 4), external relations (Capitol
5), fiscal barrier to trade (Capitol 6) and
public health (Capitol 7).
2. Intellectual property
2.1. Protection of protected
designations of origin
The EU legislation for quality wine
consists of two types of classificatio n:
Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO)
regarding quality wines produced in a
specified region and Protected
Geographical Indication (PGI ) regarding
quality wines with geographical
indication. In the specific case of the wine
industry, protection by origin plays an
imperative role, since it is not only a
‘labeling’ issue, as wine quality is strongly
linked to the place where the grape is
Jazmín Muñoz and Sofía Boza, Protection by origin in Chile and the European markets: the case of the wine
sector, SECO/WTI Academic Cooperation Project, Working Paper No. 14/2017,
Judgment of 20 December 2017, Vin de Champagne v Aldi Süd, Case C-393/16, ECLI:EU:C:2017:991.
harvested in terms of the terroir of the
The Court had occasion to define the
concepts related to protected designations
of origin in many cases.
In a recent judgement of 20 th
December 2017, Champagner Sorbet
, the
Court held that a sorbet may be sold under
the name ‘Champagner Sorbet’ if it has, as
one of its essential character istics, a taste
attributable primarily to champagne. If that
is the case, that product name does not take
undue advantage of the protected
designation of origin ‘Champagne’.
At the end of 2012, Aldi, a company
distributing, in ter alia, foodstuffs, began to
sell a frozen prod uct, distributed under the
name ‘Champagner Sorbet’ and contained,
among its ingredients, 12% champagne.
Taking the view t hat the distribution of that
product under that name constituted an
infringement of the PDO ‘Champagne’, the
Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de
Champagne, an association of champagne
producers, brought proceedings before the
Landgericht München.
In this respect, the CJEU, first of all,
rejected the position of the Comité that the
protection granted under these provisions
was absolute. The Court stated that the use
of a protected designation of origin as part of
the name under which is sold a foodstuff that
does not correspond to the prod uct
specifications for that designation but
contains an ingredient which does
correspond to those specifications cannot be
regarded, in itself, as an unfair use and,
therefore, as a u se against which protected
designations of origin are p rotected in all
circumstances by virtue of the applicable
provisions of EU law
. It is true that the use

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