Hannibal’s ‘Back to Basics’ – What does AOC mean?


Ahead of this Thursday’s ‘Rhone Rangers’ LockdownLive! event, we thought we’d re-visit some basic principles of French wine labelling.  Here’s a quick outline of what AOC means :

In French – “Appellation d’origine Controlee”

In English – “Controlled designation of origin”Rhone Rangers header square

The principle is that a wine with an AOC classification has a guarantee of quality and origin, and the winemaker has strict guidelines to follow in order to obtain the classification.

AOCs vary massively in size. Some can cover large areas with a variety of climate and soil characteristics, others are small and incredibly uniform.

The Côtes du Rhône AOC covers about 400 square kilometres of land.

We must remember though, a wine that doesn’t carry an AOC classification is not necessarily of lesser quality.  It can mean that the winemaker simply hasn’t the desire to jump through all the hoops required to obtain the classification.  Or he may disagree with some of the AOC regulations.  For example, I know a winemaker who’s AOC states that there must be zero irrigation of the vines.  But he knows that a small amount of irrigation leads to far better results.  So why wouldn’t you?

Join us for ‘Rhone Rangers’ – a Lockdown Live event on Facebook – 7pm Thursday 22nd Oct 2020.


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