Wine Knowledge | AOC Wine

AOC means "appellation of controlled origin" in French. This is a geographically based name defined by French law, with stringent controls on most aspects of winemaking, including the grapes used, maximum yields and permitted alcoholic strength. The bottle is labeled "Appellation + Place of Origin + Controlee". The more detailed the place of origin is indicated, the better the quality of wine. For example, Bordeaux can be divided into Medoc, Grave, etc., and Medoc consists of many villages such as Margaux Village that comprises a few chateaux, e.g. Chateau Lascombes. To understand French wine, please remember the French word Chateau.

The lowest level is AOC related to a large place of origin, e.g. Appellation + Bordeaux + Controlee
The second lowest level is AOC related to a smaller place of origin, e.g. Appellation + Medoc + Controlee
The second highest level is AOC related to the name of a village, e.g. Appellation + Margaux Village + Controlee
The highest level is AOC related to the name of a chateau, e.g. Appellation + Chateau Lascombes + Controlee

As to the law on French wine, what has to be mentioned is the AOC system that was made in the 1930s. This wine management system has had a far-reaching influence on France and even the world at large. AOC is short for the French expression Appellation d'Origine Controllee, literally meaning "appellation of controlled origin". "Appellation" means "designation", origine "origin" and controllee "controlled". The first two words should not be confused because an appellation does not mean only the origin, although most of appellations come from origins, for example, Bordeaux and Bourgogne. The AOC system stipulates the geographical boundary of grape plantation, the variety of plantable grapes, the methodology of grape plantation (plantation density, pruning, unit yield, sugar content of ripe grapes, date of harvest, etc.), and the wine making method (fermentation method and time, ageing method and time, etc.).

An appellation may be defined with a place of origin only. For example, Bordeaux is not only a place of origin, but also an appellation. The place of origin may be large or small, ranging in order of region (e.g. Bordeaux and Bourgogne), community or village (e.g. Pauillac and Nuits St. Georges), and grapery (e.g. Romanee Conti). In the same area, higher-level AOC requires unit yield different from lower-level AOC and higher sugar content of harvested grapes, so the quality is generally higher. For instance, in Bordeaux, the unit yield of Appellation Haut-Medoc Controllee is required to be less than 5,000 liters/hectare and that of Appellation Pauillac Controllee less than 4,500 liters/hectare. Most of appellations include only a name of place that indicates where a bottle of wine comes from, which variety is used to brew the wine, and what type the wine belongs to. For example, champagne is certain to be sparkling wine, travel to be dry pink wine, and sauternes to be viu manent sweet wine.
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