But what are all these labels hiding on our favorite bottles? It is quite simply a guarantee of quality, both for the consumer and for the producer. These official certifications are distributed by the National Institute of Origin and Quality, placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture.
AOC and AOP what is the difference?
First of all, let's talk about designations of origin: AOC and AOP. They highlight the notion of terroir which is characterized by production based on the specific characteristics of a delimited geographical area. Know-how is at the heart of the terroir, a collective know-how, developed by a human community over the course of its history. The terroir is therefore based on a system where physical and biological environments interact alongside passionate human capital.
First of all, the AOC, Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, brings together all products for which all stages of manufacturing, production and processing are concentrated in the same geographical area. The know-how of a particular geographical area is highlighted here, more than 300 wines have this label in France.
Since 1992, the AOP, Protected Designation of Origin, has extended the AOC to the European level. It is in fact the same label, but at different levels: the AOC complies with French law while the AOP is linked to European law. France must first recognize the product as an AOC before it is registered with the European Commission as an AOP. This label protects the product name throughout the European Union.
The AOC is a step towards the AOP, you cannot therefore be AOP without being AOC; on the other hand, the opposite is entirely possible.
And the IGP in all this?
The latest flagship designation for wine products, the IGP, Protected Geographical Indication, is also a European label. It designates the old local wines, that is to say the wines corresponding to a French wine denomination, created in order to promote the important productions which were not concerned by any Appellation of Origin. To be PGI, at least one of the production stages, often the processing stage, must have taken place in a specific geographical area. On the other hand, this label does not guarantee the implementation of recognized know-how from local producers such as the AOC or AOP, nor that its ingredients come from the region concerned.
But how can we guarantee that these labels are truly reliable?
The method of awarding these labels meets very precise rules: specifications approved by the Ministry of Agriculture determine the conditions for producing wines and defined geographical areas.
Chemical and organoleptic analyzes are carried out by a control commission mandated by the National Institute of Origin and Quality itself, whose decisions and specifications for each product are published.