Tocai Friulano: the story behind the EU decision to change the name

In her 1913 poem “Sacred Emily,” Gertrude Stein wrote famously that a rose is a rose is a rose.

The best English-language account (that I could find) of the EU litigation that led to Tocai’s name change was posted by DiWineTaste here.

The bullet points are as follows:

In 1993, Hungary filed a complaint with the EU, petitioning the legislative branch of the European government to block Italy from labeling wines as “Tocai.” The Hungarians’s complaint was based on a common precept of trademark law: the Hungarians were the first to use the name Tokaji (a toponym and enonym and homonym of the Friulians’s Tocai) in commerce.

A protracted legal battle ended with a 2005 EU decision that the Italians could use the designation “Tocai” only on bottles sold in Italy (and not abroad).

The decision went into effect in March 2007, so technically the 2007 vintage was the first to fall under the restrictions created by the ruling.

Surprisingly, as Mr. Franco Ziliani and I reported at VinoWire, sales of bottles labeled with the new designation “Friulano” increased in Germany and the U.S. after the new labeling restrictions went into effect.

Maybe Stein and Shakespeare were both wrong: What’s in a name? that which we call a rose Tocai / By any other name would smell as sweet sweeter!