Spain's various denominations of origin, meeting last weekend, have reiterated calls for the European Union and the Madrid authorities to do more to protect Spanish wines from fraudulent sales in the US.
A petition put forward by Jose Maria Rodriguez, head of the Malaga DO, calling for greater protection for wines from Malaga and Jerez was supported unanimously by all the other Consejos Reguladores, the bodies which regulate and promote wines from each of the 59 Spanish denominations.
The petition called for the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture to put pressure on the European authorities to take action against US wine producers using the Malaga and Jerez (sherry) names to sell their own fortified wines, according to a report from Europa Press.
Rodriguez said that while Jerez was the denomination most affected by the fraudulent use of the name 'sherry', the sherry-like wines from Malaga were also being affected, especially in export markets where the cheaper 'fakes' were impacting sales.
Winemakers in Malaga are clearly worried about the long-term impact of the fraudulent use of their name in the US. The local MP, Miguel Angel Heredia, has put forward a proposal in the Spanish parliament which would enable Spain to take legal action (through the World Trade Organisation) against anyone using the name illegally.
Heredia is also calling for significant substantial support from the government to help promote the wines "which the US is putting into serious danger", including those from Malaga.
The case has also been brought to the attention of the authorities in Brussels by Carlos Bautista, the MEP for Andalusia (the southern Spanish region where Malaga and Jerez are located).
The use of the names Jerez and Malaga, like those for Champagne or Cognac, is protected under EU laws, and only producers based in those regions and making their products there are allowed to use the names - a move which, for example, forced British 'sherry' makers to relabel their products as fortified wine.
The EU is frequently called upon by the Member States to protect these names, and has signed a number of agreements with its trading partners in recent years regarding their usage - most recently with South Africa. But the US remains a sticking point, and the likelihood of further action at the WTO cannot be ruled out.