The Italian government is launching legal proceedings against Slovenia in an attempt to defend the authenticity of its geographically protected balsamic vinegar.
The issue started at the beginning of last year, when the Slovenian government informed the European Commission that it plans to introduce standards in the production of vinegar and to market any wine vinegar mixed with fruit juice concentrate as “balsamic vinegar”.
Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi gave the go-ahead to the state prosecutor’s office to initiate misdemeanor proceedings because according to a 2009 law, the term “aceto balsamico di Modena” (balsamic vinegar of Modena) can only be used by producers from the Italian city of Modena and the Emilia-Romagna region.
The Italians, however, lost a legal dispute with Germany in 2019 when they tried to prevent a German company from using the authentic name for its vinegar. In that case, the court in Luxembourg ruled that only the label Balsamic Vinegar of Modena was protected, but not the term Balsamic Vinegar itself.
The Italians, who consider Slovenia’s attempt scandalous, aim to protect their brand in a market worth one billion euros, which, compared to last year, has grown by 60 percent. As an argument, the Italians cite a long tradition that dictates that some balsamic vinegar must be aged for 12 years, some 25, and especially – extra class, even 200 years.