The French Laws of Wine :

 

Progressively since the beginning of the twentieth century, the government of France, in the form of the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) together with local representatives, developed a system of wine laws. The purpose was to endeavour to protect the geographical origin of the wines against fraud and to determine the often time-honoured ways in which the wines were made and the grape varieties used. The French Wine connection is proposing the 2 higher standards:

 

Appellation d’Origine Controllée (AOC): This has covered all the mainstream areas of France since 1935 and is slowly but surely being extended to the lesser region. Over 40 percent of the total wine production in France is now AOC. Total production is some 54.3 million hectolitre per annum.

 

Vin de Pays: Higher yields and a more liberal choice of grape varieties are allowed but each wine must pass a tasting test. Enterprising growers often produce some very interesting vin de pays, largely because they can be made with a higher percentage of non-indigenous quality grapes.

 

The specifications cover the following categories:

 

Area of Production, this defines the area entitled to a particular appellation, restricting the land only to suitable vineyards sites.

Grape Varieties, this lists wich grape varieties may be planted in order to qualify for the appellation. In some cases, an additional list of varieties “permitted” in small proportions.

Vitcicultural regulations, this lays down the density if the vines per given area and determines how they should be planted, pruned and treated.

Ripeness of the fruit, This determines the minimum alcohol level of the wine. The grape juice must have enough sugar to produce a wine which will reach the minimum alcohol level.

Quantity, This sets the maximum yields per given area. This goes from 20 hL of juice per acres or less to 70hL. This is one reason why the price differences between appellations vary so much.

Winemaking, This determines what is and is not allowed during the vinification and maturation process for each appellation.

Age of commercialisation, This regulates the minimum age at which a wine can be put on the market.

Tasting and chemical analysis, All the wines must pass both a tasting test and satisfy the authorities by its chemical analysis. This was introduced in 1974.

Declaration of stocks and Yields, Growers need to make a declaration of their production each vintage and of their unsold stocks at 31 August each year.

 

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