TTB Industry Circular

 

Pinot Noir from the Languedoc-Roussillon Region of France; Cancellation of Declaration Requirement

May 19, 2017
Number:  2017 - 3

To:   Bonded Wineries, Bonded Wine Cellars, Taxpaid Wine Bottling Houses, Importers, Wholesalers, and Others Concerned

1. Purpose.

This Industry Circular serves as notice that, effective immediately, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is no longer requiring importers of certain bottled or bulk wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France to obtain a declaration from the Government of France.

2. Authority.

Section 105(e) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 27 U.S.C. 205(e), authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations for the labeling of wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages. The FAA Act requires that these regulations, among other things, prohibit consumer deception and the use of misleading statements on labels, and ensure that labels provide the consumer with adequate information as to the identity and quality of the product. TTB administers the regulations promulgated under the FAA Act.

Part 4 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR part 4) allows for the labeling of wine with grape varieties and with appellations of origin. Under 27 CFR 4.23, the name of one or more grape varieties may be used as the type designation if the wine is also labeled with an appellation of origin. Under 27 CFR 4.25(b)(2)(ii) and 4.25(e)(3)(iii), foreign wine imported into the United States must also conform to the requirements of the foreign laws and regulations governing the composition, method of production, and designation of wines available for consumption within the country of origin.

3. Cancellation.

This Industry Circular supersedes Industry Circular 2010–5, Pinot Noir from the Languedoc-Roussillon Region of France.

4. Background.

Under TTB's regulations, wine must meet certain standards in order to be labeled with certain information like grape variety, appellation of origin, or vintage date. In the case of imported wine labeled with a foreign appellation of origin, TTB's regulations require that the wine conforms to the laws and regulations of the country of origin. These TTB regulations are in place to ensure that labels provide consumers with adequate information as to the identity and quality of the product.

As stated in section 2 of this Industry Circular, wine labeled with one or more grape varieties must also be labeled with an appellation of origin. Wine labeled with a foreign appellation of origin must comply with the requirements of the foreign country's laws and regulations governing its composition, method of production, and designation, which includes standards relating to grape varieties and wine derived from grapes grown in the labeled appellation of origin area.

TTB previously obtained information from French authorities about investigations of wine producers and merchants in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France who were suspected of selling wine labeled as pinot noir when the wine was not produced from pinot noir grapes.  These investigations resulted in criminal charges of fraud and subsequent convictions for certain producers and merchants associated with the fraud.  As a result, to help ensure the integrity of imported wines in the U.S. marketplace, TTB issued Industry Circular 2010–5 in May 2010.  That Industry Circular required U.S. importers of bottled or bulk wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France covered by a COLA naming pinot noir as the single grape varietal and an appellation of origin in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, to obtain a declaration from the Government of France stating that:

  1. The wine was produced from at least the minimum percentage of wine derived from pinot noir grapes as required by French law for the labeled appellation of origin;
  2. The wine was produced from at least the minimum percentage of wine derived from pinot noir grapes grown in the labeled appellation of origin as required by French law for the labeled appellation of origin; and
  3. The wine otherwise conforms to the requirements of the French laws and regulations governing its composition, method of production, and designation.

TTB has remained in contact with France's General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs, and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) as the appeals process in those cases has proceeded.  The DGCCRF informed TTB that the process was concluded and that new regulatory measures have been put into place to address the occurrence of such violations going forward.

5. Determination.

Based on the resolution of the court cases and assurances from French government officials, effective immediately, TTB is canceling the declaration requirement imposed by TTB Industry Circular 2010–5.

Questions.  If you have any questions concerning this Industry Circular, please contact the International Affairs Division at (202) 453-2260 or contact IAD online.

Date Signed:  May 18, 2017

Signed by John Manfreda

John J. Manfreda
Administrator
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

 

Page last reviewed: May 19, 2017
Page last updated: May 19, 2017
Maintained by: Regulations and Rulings Division