Up until recently there were 4 wine classifications. Please stay with me as this is dull but important.
Vin de Table, Vin de Pays, Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure and Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée AOC, with most of the press being around the latter. There are lots of rules and regs surrounding AOC but it still accounted for 55% of all French wines, so hardly a stamp of quality most see it as.
Everything changed in 2012, with what was supposed to be a simpler system, just 3 now. Vin de France replaced Vin de table (Country wine), growers can now state the vintage, the grapes but oddly not where it is from.
Here is a great example of a bottle I bought last week.
… What does this tell us….. well it’s from old vines, the vintage is 2011 and it’s from place I have never heard of. (Corsica I subsequently found out) and it’s bio-dymanic. But why is this “basic” wine 20Euros?
The answer is simple, because it is brilliant!
I have been buying wines from a shop over the past few years and I have noticed more and more of the stock is Vin de France, more enlightened producers are moving away from the strict Appellation d’Origine Protegee which dictates grape variety, how the grower cultivates and so much more to a more flexible approach but obviously they lose some of the cache of AOP. I think it’s a great step forward with growers now being able to express their individuality rather than being brow beaten by the bureaucrats.
Where does leave the consumer….pretty confused really but have trust in your independent wine shop. Next time you see a Vin de France and wonder why it is more expensive than a AOP you now know why.
Just to tidy things up Indication Geographique Protegee has replaced Vin de pays and Appellation d’Origine Protegee – AOP has replaced AOC.