(MTI) – The Hungarian government represents the interests of the “Tokaj” brand name at international forums and the local wine council supports every effort to protect the origin of Hungarian wines from the Tokaj region, the council said after a European Court ruling rejecting Hungary’s appeal in a case against Slovakia.
Related article: European Court rejects Hungary appeal over Tokaj
The Council of Mountainous Regions in the Tokaj Wine Region said in a statement sent to MTI on Friday that news of the European court ruling could mislead customers.
The ruling of the Luxembourg court only means that Slovak wine-makers can market their wines of a lesser quality than Hungarian ones under a brand name very similar to the Hungarian Tokaj label. However, they are still banned from using the “Tokaj” name, the statement said.
Slovakia registered its wine under the name “Vinohradnicka oblast’ Tokaj” in the European database “E-Bacchus”. Hungary turned to the European Court to erase the Slovak entry from the database, but the court rejected this and later said Hungary could not appeal against the decision.
The ruling could still hurt Hungarian wine makers and disrupt the local market, the wine council said.
Slovak wine-makers have welcomed the ruling. Geza Nagy, the head of a wine association of Tokaj wines on the Slovak side of the region, told MTI that the conditions of producing grapes and making wine were the same on the Slovak side of the border as in Hungary and it is regrettable that this dispute have even unfolded.
In a 2004 agreement, Hungary and Slovakia established that the Tokaj wine-growing area forms a cross-border region, and pledged to agree as soon as possible on uniform methods of production and quality control, as well as to specify the exact borders of the Slovak wine-growing region.
These issues, however, are still bones of contention between the two countries. With uniform regulations missing, Hungary has insisted that the two areas should be considered as separate wine-growing regions so that wines marketed under the Tokaj label but failing to meet the strict Hungarian standards should not harm the brand of wines made in Hungary.