The Range of French Wine
The scale of French wine
Regulating French Wine
Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC)
Vins Delimites de Qualite Superieure (VDQS)
Vins de Pays
Vins de Tables
Special Wines
Reading a French Wine Label
The Wine Trade In France
The Language Of France
The Essentials Of France
AOC Regulations
Protecting The Appellations

The process by which the AOC laws developed has an importance beyond France, and their history is thus out-lined in the chapter on the world's quality wine zones.

The AOCs are areas making wine according to local criteria. There are around 400 AOCs in existence. Two aspects are important: one, that the rules are local ones; second, that AOCs exist in tiers or levels. The local nature of the rules is a deliberate attempt to preserve wine traditions and qualities, and to emphasize the uniqueness of each region or locality.

The rules, governed since 1935 by the INAO - the Institute National des Appellations d'Origine, were drawn up by, and amended in cooperation with, each region's wine producers and merchants. They thus reflect local usage. In Bordeaux the unit of wine is a chateau. This some-what mystical and elastic concept is discussed, but it is by no means a fixed patch of land. In
Bur-gundy and elsewhere, by contrast, the specific vineyard takes priority over the person, or persons, who own it.

The AOC rules in the two regions differ accordingly. In Bordeaux there are fairly wide AOCs covering whole communes or even, as in the case of AOC Margaux, five com-munes. Specific vineyards are not graded, though everyone knows that some land is better than others. Apart from excluding patently un-suitable land - low-lying meadows - the AOC contents itself with establishing AOC Margaux or St- Julien. Within these districts the chateaux have a pecking order, ex-pressed in the 1855 Classification, the other, later, classifications, and the list of Crus Bourgeoises. None of these is the concern of the AOC. The labels on bottles of Chateau
Mar-gaux, and on the obscurest back-woods wine, each bear the words 'Appellation Margaux Controlee".

In Burgundy, a commune the size of Gevrey-Chambertin, comparable in scale with one of the Medoc vil-lages, will have its own AOC but will be further divided into dozens of named vineyards. Some of these will be AOC Gevrey-Chambertin, others will be entitled to the AOC Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, and a select few will possess their own AOCs and the status of Grand Cru. A small amount of outlying land will, by con-trast, be thought unfit to be Gevrey at all and be demoted to mere AOC Bourgogne.

A more manageable example of the same tier approach can be found in many other regions. In the Rhone, the large Cotes du Rhone AOC is dotted with districts entitled to use the Cotes du Rhone-Villages AOC. These are communes deemed to make better wine. A selected few have been, further promoted and allowed to use their own name -added on to Cotes du Rhone-Villages. The top tier has escaped from the Cotes du Rhone AOC completely and go under their name alone, such as AOC Gigondas.

Wine regions of the world.

History of wine
Choosing Wine
Keeping Wine
Serving Wine
Tasting Wine
Wine and Food
Making of Wine
Maturing Wine
Wine Terminology
Creating A Cellar
Facts And Fallacies
Wine Glossary
Reading Wine Label
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