New Zealand Winegrowers, the trade body, has welcomed new regulations to relax the rules on exporting wines above 15% abv to the EU.

New rules issued today (1 December) open the door for New Zealand producers of sweet wines to be permitted to export wines to the EU for the first time.

David Cox, European director for New Zealand Winegrowers, said: "It has taken many years of hard work by the Policy & Regulatory team at New Zealand Winegrowers in Auckland to get this agreement with the EU and they are to be commended for their tenacity." 

He added: "The way is now clear for the UK trade, especially the on-trade and independent trade, to be able to purchase these sensational late harvest and noble sweet-styles wines and I am delighted that we will be showing so many at our tasting in January."

The majority of the wines that will be imported into the EU under the new rules will be made from grapes such as Riesling, Semillon, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc and will either be late picked or botyrised in some way.

As a result, New Zealand Winegrowers said it will launch availability at the Annual Trade Tasting at Lord's Cricket Ground, London on 12 January 2010. More than 15 sweet wines will be on show.

Details of the regulations can be found here.