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A.O.C. 2

The Appellation Contrôlée System

The French system of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) is the basis of all controls on wine production in Europe and is now even being accepted as necessary in America.
It is, quite simply, a system of controls on the origin of the wine, so that the
wine in the bottle corresponds to the name on the label.
If the controls are adhered to (and if they are not, then the wine loses its right to the appellation, and may not be called by its name), the wine will correspond to a style or type. This style will be lighter or more intense according to the character of the vintage, more or less 'typical', and better or worse according to the quality of viticulture and vinification, but the type should still be evident.
The human element, by far the most important factor in the production of fine wine, cannot be controlled, since a wine producer can search for or disregard quality as he pleases, but the AOC system provides the framework for his efforts.
The Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO) has differentiated
between three main types of wine.
A. Vins d'Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC)
B. Vins Délimités de Qualité Supérieur (VDQS)
C. Vins de Pays
There is also a fourth type, Vins de Table Francais, from French vines only, often sold
under a brand name with no regional origin.

A. Vins d'Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC)
Since the finest wines of France are almost without exception AOCs, it is important to
know what actually is controlled.
This comes under eight headings.

1. The area of production.
The land on which vines may be planted to benefit from the appellation: vines planted outside the exact region or within the region but on land deemed unsuitable do not conform.

2. Variety of grape.
In some cases only a single variety is permitted (Bourgogne, Hermitage), in others,
several complementary grapes (Médoc, Châteauneuf-du-Pape), with the proviso that if hybrid grapes are planted anywhere in the vineyard, the appellation is completely lost, and if non-permitted vitis vinifera grapes are planted in a particular parcel, the appellation is forfeited for wines from that parcel. Finally, grapes from newly planted vines may only be used in AOC wine from their fourth vintage.


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