James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

NZ wine's flavour of Chile

Complaint to Commerce Commission over tiny tag revealing drink is from overseas.

A bottle of Waikoukou Valley Old North Road pinot noir 2012, above, which consumer advocate Kevin Milne says could breach the Fair Trading Act with its label.
A bottle of Waikoukou Valley Old North Road pinot noir 2012, above, which consumer advocate Kevin Milne says could breach the Fair Trading Act with its label.

Former Fair Go presenter and consumer advocate Kevin Milne is taking a well-known New Zealand winery to task over the label of one of its "classic character" wines that's actually made in South America.

Milne, a Woman's Weekly columnist, says he is about to lay a complaint with the Commerce Commission after one of his readers wrote in claiming the label on Waikoukou Valley's Old North Road pinot noir 2012 could be misleading.

The winery has defended the label.

The bottle's rear label reads: "Old North Road runs through the Riverhead Forest west of Auckland and past our winery where we have been producing wines for New Zealanders to enjoy for over 30 years.

A bottle of Waikoukou Valley Old North Road Pinot Noir 2012. Photo / Christine Cornege
A bottle of Waikoukou Valley Old North Road Pinot Noir 2012. Photo / Christine Cornege

"The wines that carry the Old North Road name represent classic character and an easy drinking style perfect for any occasion."

But a close inspection of the front label - that is dominated by large, dark print - reveals in tiny silver writing: "Wine of Chile". Milne said the hard-to-read label could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act.

"At any distance at all you can't see the Wine of Chile on it, it's tiny," he said. "There's all the stuff on the bottle about how it's called Waikoukou Valley Old North Road, it's the new Matua Road, and yet in tiny writing is the fact that the wine is from Chile."

Milne said he had contacted the Commerce Commission and he was now planning a formal complaint.

"I reckon what actually has to happen is they have to go through all these bottles and put a sticker on them with the larger print saying wine from Chile on it," he said. "I'm not suggesting they rebottle them or anything but I think they need some decent-sized stickers on them."

Elizabeth Middleton, global public relations manager for Treasury Wine Estates, said the company was "very up front" about the wine's Chilean origins although she could not say what winery or what part of the country it came from.

She said a number of Old North Roads wines were foreign-made while a number were sourced locally.

Asked if the company would consider changing its labels to more clearly show this, Ms Middleton said: "Maybe", although it was not mandatory to do so.

"If you looked at some other wines they are from places outside of New Zealand with New Zealand labels and they don't even say it. We don't hide it, we put it on the front label - but would we consider making the font larger or perhaps making the label [bigger] in the next update of the label or a vintage That's possible.

"It's never been brought to our attention until that single consumer has brought it up. We will absolutely take that into consideration."

The Commerce Commission was unable to respond to questions before press time.

- NZ Herald

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