Slovenia: Dispute with Italy over balsamic vinegar brought to court

Special from Modena
Italy sues Slovenia over balsamic vinegar.

“Aceto Balsamico di Modena” is a quality seal authorized to be worn only by Modena vinegar producers. The Italian government wants to protect this cultural treasure at all costs.

© Shotshop / Imago Images

“Aceto Balsamico” two words that make a lot of noise. Since Italy confiscated the world famous balsamic vinegar from Modena, the Roman Empire is suing Slovenia.

Pizza, pasta, espresso – the list of Italian delicacies is long. And the country’s government strongly protects these culinary cultural assets. The current focus is on balsamic vinegar, unique in the world and produced in the northern Italian province of Modena. The vinegar is obtained through the traditional process of grape must and wine vinegar, which are grown in barrels made of fine wood and acquire a unique aroma. Since 2009, the term “Aceto Balsamico di Modena” is a protected term that is only allowed to be used by producers in the region of Modena and Emilia-Romagna.

This seal of quality must be preserved. According to The Guardian, the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Stefano Patuanelli, said that the protection of Italian wine and food is a priority, and that the government will do everything possible to protect these products from “illegal attacks”. The southern European country accuses its neighbor Slovenia of such “aggression”. In the eyes of the Slovenian government, all wine vinegar mixed with wine should be allowed to be called “aceto balsamico”. As for Italy, this formal use of the word is a danger to traditional producers in Modena, a long-standing tradition and a market worth a billion euros.

A dispute over balsamic vinegar can be stopped in the European Court

The conflict has been simmering since last year, when Slovenia notified the European Commission of plans to “standardize” vinegar production, the Guardian reported. This project “not only clearly contradicts the principle of harmonization with Community rules and European law, but also aims to turn the name ‘balsamic vinegar’ into a standard name,” the Austrian press agency quoted the conservation cooperation as saying. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena.

In North Modena, there are many producers and suppliers of world-famous vinegar "Balsamic vinegar of Modena"Those who are allowed to carry this special seal of quality.

In North Modena there are several producers and suppliers of the world famous vinegar “Aceto Balsamico di Modena” authorized to carry this special seal of quality.

© Pietro Scozzari / Imago Images

Former Prime Minister Mario Draghi backed the union and gave the green light for prosecutors to begin infringement proceedings. The government of Rome then filed a complaint against Slovenia with the European Union Commission. “The infringement case against Slovenia lifts our spirits, the government in Rome is on our side,” Mariangela Grossoli, president of the Vinegar Consortium, said on Monday. “After months of waiting and worrying, we finally see a glimmer of hope.”

The protected term applies only to producers from Modena.

After dealing with the European Commission, the case can be brought before the European Court. The Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture replied that the issue of vinegar is not regulated in the European Union. Each country may have its own rules. The ECJ may agree. “Guardian” refers to the same issue from 2019. At that time, the Italian balsamic vinegar producers lost the case against the German company. The manufacturer labeled the products with the words “Balsamico” and “German Balsamico”.

The court ruled that the protected word “Aceto Balsamico di Modena” can only be used by producers in a certain geographical area, but there are no restrictions on “aceto” or “aceto balsamico”. According to the verdict, the name “aceto” is common, while “balsamic” is simply a common adjective to refer to vinegar with a bitter taste.

SourcesAustria Press Agency, “The Guardian”.

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