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Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 19:05 GMT 20:05 UK
EU faces bulbous bottle battle
Bocksbeutel
Bocksbeutel have been in use for over two centuries

By Rob Broomby in Berlin

Wine-makers in the south German state of Bavaria are up in arms over European Union proposals which could threaten one of Europe's most distinctive wine bottle shapes.

The so-called "bocksbeutel" takes its name from its distinctive bulbous shape - according to legend inspired by a goat's scrotum. It has been used by Franconian wine producers for over 200 years.

But a new proposed EU directive would remove protection for the handful of producers, and allow anyone to use the distinctive fat bottle for their wine.

The wine-producers have now launched a campaign to protect what they see as a key part of their tradition.

At the moment, the bell-like container is allowed for Franconian wine, some Portuguese wines, like Mateus Rose, and a handful of labels from Greece.

Balloon protest

In response to the EU plans, the local industry has launched a huge hot air balloon in the traditional bottle shape, with the intention of flying their complaint all the way to Brussels.

The bottle is a recognisable symbol of quality and has been used since 1726, according to Johannes Lay of the Franconian Wine Growers' Association.

We support the EU, he said, but we do not want to lose our regional traditions.

Franconia produces 50 million litres of wine a year, and exports just 2%.

The latest row might even raise the profile of the famous Bocksbeutel wine still further.

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See also:

29 Dec 00 | Europe
Police probe French wine 'fraud'
13 Dec 00 | UK
Stick a plastic cork in it
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