(AOC) system may not be
perfect, but for winemakers it can provide crucial recognition of their terroir's greatness—and
serve as a valuable marketing tool. Earlier this month, the INAO (Institut National des
Appellations d'Origine), the body that governs the appellations, approved the creation of four
new AOCs in Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. Producers in Burgundy hope that their two new
appellations will improve sales of low-cost wines. In the Southern Rhône, one appellation is
being elevated, while another is eager for a name change. All the AOC changes should now be
approved by the French Ministry for Agriculture within a few months, if no serious objections
Winegrowers have requested that the AOC Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire appellation be
re-baptized Côteaux Bourguignons. "Nobody markets wine under the existing
appellation anymore as it doesn't have a good ring to it," says Pierre-Henry Gagey,
managing director of Louis Jadot. Like the old Grand Ordinaire, Côteaux Bourguignons
will be situated at the bottom of the classification system in Burgundy, underneath the
Bourgogne appellation, reserved for low-priced brands. The rules for the new
appellation will be similar to its predecessor's—wines can be made from either
Chardonnay or Gamay and/or Pinot Noir sourced from the greater Burgundy region,
including Beaujolais. With demand for Beaujolais Nouveau shrinking, growers planted
500 new acres of Chardonnay in Beaujolais last year.
This appellation will be for low-cost wines from the Côtes de Nuit and Côtes de Beaune
areas. Up until now, these wines had been simply marketed as Bourgogne. "The new
name will offer a guarantee that a wine is of a good standard of quality, made from
this specific zone and exclusively from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, rather than Gamay,"
says grower Philippe Charlopin. Consumers can expect 700,000 bottles of Bourgogne
Côte d'Or to hit the market in 2012.
The Côteaux de Tricastin appellation, located 30 miles north of Châteauneuf-du-Pape,
will change its name to AOC Grignon Lès Adhémar, the name of a local village. The
appellation has suffered from its proximity to the Tricastin nuclear power plant, which
experienced a uranium leak in 2008. As a result, sales of the area's annual production
of 15 million bottles dropped by 40 percent over the past two years. The new
appellation's reds, whites and rosés will appear as of the 2010 vintage.
Twenty miles farther south, producers of dry red wines labeled Rasteau Côtes du
Rhône Villages will soon shorten the name to Rasteau beginning with the 2009
offerings. Until now, the Rasteau AOC was reserved for the area's red fortified wines.
The new extension elevates Rasteau reds up to the status of Cru, alongside
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, Lirac, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Beaumes de Venise and
Vinsobres. "INAO's decision officially recognizes the quality of our terroir and clarifies
our image with wine lovers," says Jean-Jacques Dost, managing director of the Rasteau
co-operative winery. Sweet wines will also include Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) on the
The AOC law first took shape in 1935
Merlot is the most widely planetd varietal, Ugni Blanc is the most widely planted white varietal
The total French production for the 2005 vintage was 43.9 million hl
In 2005 there were 472 different wine AOCs in France
If a single varietal name is used, the wine must be made from a minimum of 85% of this variety.
If two or more varietal names are used, only the displayed varieties are allowed.
If two or more varietal names are used, they must generally appear in descending order.
Cahors: The original Malbec.