Click Here, to view Map of the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region of France.
Appellations are wine producing regions given special status by the French government. Winemakers can claim this special status provided they follow certain rules, including the geographical boundaries of the appellation where the grapes must be grown. Other rules cover what grape varieties can be used to make the wine, a lower yield of grapes per hectare (hectolitres per hectare), the requirement that wines be blended and features of the vinification (winemaking) process. The special status is named Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, AOC for short. This is also now referred to in accordance with European Union rules Appellation d’Origine Protégée, AOP for short. Both of these symbols on a French bottle of wine, AOC and/or AOP, mean the winemaker has complied with strict regulations in producing his or her wine.
Many grape growers could not afford to reduce yields because traditionally they had been paid by the weight of the grapes they sold to wine collectives, or cooperatives. Wine collectives (cave coopérative) buy grapes from member growers and the members make wine collectively at the cave sharing the significant costs of equipment and labor (the winemaker and workers in the cave) necessary to make wine.
For this reason and also because innovative winemakers want to use non-traditional grapes or winemaking processes in their wines, or because they want to make wines from one grape variety without blending (varietal wine), a secondary system was developed with more flexible requirements. This designation is Indication Géographique Protégée, or IGP for short. This wine is also sometimes labeled Pays d’Oc. Formerly called Vin de Pays, it is the most important IGP designation in France, accounting for 58% of all IGP wine in France. The designation IGP does not in any way indicate inferior quality. Many of our favorite wines are IGP because the winemaker needed more freedom to express his or her instinct and passion for the terroir.
Some of the most renegade and independent of winemakers label their wines simply Vin de France.
We recommend that you not become too focused on the government labels and instead trust yourself and see simply whether or not you love the wine.