In France valid new designation AOP for the highest wine quality level "Wines with protected origin". The reason for this was the new EU wine market regime that came into effect in August 2009. It is now an EU-controlled source quality system prescribed that the wines fall into two classes, namely without and with indication of origin divided. However, the old designation AOC can still be used. The category VDQS (Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure), introduced in 1949 and which had been considered an AOC preliminary stage, was deleted without replacement. The manufacturing conditions must be prepared according to AOP standards and the reference to terroir be detected. Only then can you be classified up to AOP.
The change from controlled to protected means a far more extensive and transparent set of rules. An independent control organization checks whether a wine complies with the specifications of the respective appellation. The controls cover the entire production chain, from the barrel to the bottle. The appellation then applies not only to a specific tank, but to the entire company. The connection to the terroir is therefore even more important than before at AOC. There are three levels: AOP Cru (wines from a winery, location or plot), AOP communal (municipality) and AOP regional (region).
The basis was created primarily by two farsighted men. The first was Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié (1890-1967), who, as the owner of the Château Fortia on the southern Rhone in the 1920s defined an area for 10 (later 13) grape varieties and wine due to the prevailing there climate and the soil type was particularly well suited. After long efforts, the borders were finally laid down in 1929, but it wasn't until 1935 that the area became under Châteauneuf-du-Pape classified. This was also a decisive impulse for the term terroir, The second proponent was the agricultural professor Joseph Capus (1867-1947). This took the cheese scandal as an occasion to denounce the procedure customary in Bordeaux, to produce wine from any grapes and in any method. Under his influence, the law in 1927 laid down guidelines for the winemaking extended. Among other things, it defined that only those grape varieties that were sanctified by loyal, old-established, local custom should be used. Capus thus pointed the right way and is therefore considered the godfather of the Appellationsgesetz, which is still referred to as “la loi capus” today.
Gradually, the permissible methods were considered pruning, maximum earnings, Degree of ripeness of the grapes and vinification methods added in the cellar. Initiated by Capus and Boiseaumarié in 1935, the “Comité National des Appellations d'Origine” was founded. This was the forerunner of the INAO that was founded after World War II. Since then, it has been the regulatory and administrative supreme authority in French viticulture with its headquarters in Paris and regional committees that determine, decree and control the appeals in the various quality levels for over 100,000 wine producers. Each group of wine producers can or must apply if an appellation is to be awarded. There must be justification, proof of the traditional use of the desired name, information about the terroir and its impact on production and economic details about markets, possible sales, as well as prices and price comparisons with similar products.
The application system in France was officially used after the First World War. As a result, it was also introduced in Italy, Portugal and Spain, which is why it is also called " Romanesque wine law " referred to as. The first attempts to clearly delimit areas and to define them by origin had been made much earlier and also in other countries such as Italy for the Chianti and in Portugal for the port wine given.
The main causes of a state-controlled and nationwide regulation in France are in the second half of the 19th century. Within just 50 years, the three major plagues brought in from America had real and false ones mildew, such as phylloxera Not only the vineyards of France, but severely affected and devastated all of Europe. In the renowned wine regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy there was a quantitative and above all a qualitative decline. in the Languedoc and in the then French department Algeria cheap bulk wines were produced. These were also used for wine adulteration used in a big way. The French government therefore began to enact a number of wine laws in the first two decades of the 20th century to safeguard them.
The first areas were among others Banyuls. Bordeaux. Champagne and Clairette de Die established. However, quality requirements were not yet planned. The definition of the champagne area, which was first made in 1908, led to great disagreements, quarrels and even riots. At that time, however, the system did not yet exist, and the Champagne was only classified as AC in 1927. After the end of the First World War, the French government decided on the appellation contrôlée. In this legislation, a locally defined and controlled origin and also the production methods were defined for agricultural products and food. The first product was the Roquefort, which was given a precisely defined production area in the mountains of the Aveyron department in southern France. However, it had been forgotten to stipulate that the cheese must be obtained from sheep's milk (and not from cow's milk). Therefore, there was a big "cheese scandal", which also influenced the wine laws.
The appellation system assumes, so to speak, that all winemakers of an appellation can produce wine of the same quality (of course there are differences in quality). This is checked by regular quality controls, but the situation always has priority over personal skills. The place of birth determines the quality, regardless of whether the vintage is better or less good. Conversely, a wine that has not grown in a privileged location should never be labeled with its place of birth, no matter how good the wine is. The market has its own laws, however, and it grants certain producers better quality, so that this results in a certain degree of regulation. This is similar to that in Italy where the as Super-Tuscans IGT wines often referred to as DOCG classified wines surpass.
There are around 480 AOP wines that make up around 40% of the French vineyard and produce around 30% of the wines. The brandies are also declared as AOP Armagnac and cognac, as well as the apple brandy Calvados, In addition, there are other quality terms that are not valid nationwide but differently for each wine region. See under Bordeaux Classification. Burgundy classification and Grand Cru,
Origin = origin: basis and most important criterion of the appellation system. Official decree clearly states the origin of the wine, after which it is named on the label. This can be an area, a community, or a location. All municipalities are listed individually, although within the municipal markings there may also be the case that only certain parts are authorized. The rest must then, depending on the circumstances, under a different appellation than Vin de France or IGP (Country wine; earlier Vin de pays ) are marketed. An appellation is not limited to any size, there are those with several thousand hectares of vineyards. The smallest with 0.83 hectares is the famous Grand Cru location La Romanée in Burgundy, the second smallest with 3.5 hectares Château-Grillet on the Rhône. It can happen that the entire vineyard area is owned by a single winery, which is what monopolies designated. One of the rare examples is the Chateau-Grillet mentioned, which is managed exclusively by the Château Grillet winery (without hyphen). However, should the ownership of the château increase, the appellation does not automatically increase.
Grape varieties: The wine types are defined for each appellation. Red wine and / or white wine and / or rosé wine with the permitted or authorized grape varieties. Usually there are no more than three to four that are particularly well suited to the type of soil. But there can be more, it is an extreme case Châteauneuf-du-Pape with 13 approved varieties (but of course not all of them have to be used). Each individual approved variety is listed. Minimum and maximum proportions are also defined, either for each variety and / or in groups. In many red wine appellations, white wine varieties are also permitted to a small extent.
Vineyard maintenance: There are guidelines regarding pruning (with the eyes number such as in the Champagne ), Planting density per hectare and type of training system, In some appellations it is also determined whether an artificial irrigation to what extent may be done.
Grape ripeness and alcohol content: There will be specific Mostgewichte for fresh grapes after the vintage before any enrich (in France "chaptalization") of the grape juice / must defined in g / l sugar. There are minimum and sometimes also maximum values of the alcohol content required. These requirements can be flexibly changed or adapted in years of insufficient maturity.
Yield: There are several terms that should be seen in context. The allowable earnings is known as rendement de base . It was last redefined in 1984, but is now less important than in the past. The much more important term is rendement annuel (annual yield). The producers of the individual appellations bring suggestions to the INAO that take into account the prevailing conditions this year. The value can be both higher and lower than the rendition de base.
The ceiling limite de classement (PLC) is a fixed percentage of 20%, usually determined by appellation, which, when offset against the yield, annually gives the maximum allowable yield for the year in question. The PLC can be used by individual producers, in which case all wines must be subjected to a sensory test. Everything about it distillation be fed.
Vinification: The type of winemaking and the methods allowed with it are precisely defined for the type of wine corresponding to the appellation. These include regulations regarding stemming, Type of mash such as saignée, Type of fermentation, required Cuvée and in the case of spirits, type of distillation. Quite often, however, relatively imprecise "usages locaux" (according to local custom) is given.
Quality control: In 1974 were analytical and sensory Wine tests introduced, the positive results of which are a prerequisite for marketing.
Production quantities: Regulations regarding the submission of declarations by the producers about the production quantities of each year and about the still existing stocks as of August 31st.