What was the first official appellation (AOC) in France?
Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first French wine Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC)—a term meaning “controlled designation of origin”—registered in 1936. Until the early 19th century, much of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape harvest was sold in bulk to Burgundy, to be used as vin de médecine—a shot of alcohol to boost Burgundy’s strength. However, in the wake of phylloxera and World War I, efforts by the region’s winemakers to improve the quality of wines resulted in a set of regulations to govern—among other elements—yields, winemaking, and varieties allowed, in order to be eligible to use the Châteauneuf-du-Pape designation. Before this, wine naming laws in France defined only geographical territory (not unlike our AVA system). In 1937, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC commissioned the bottle with the crest of the papal crown and St. Peter’s keys, as an acknowledgment of the region’s history as the temporary home of the Papacy in the 14th century, and as an added measure to protect the authenticity of the wine.