Appellation

In general conversation, the word appellation is often used simply to indicate the place where the grapes for a given wine were grown and subsequently made into wine. Technically, however, the word has much broader significance and importance. For this we must turn to the French for whom the full term is Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, often abbreviated as AOC. France’s AOC regulations have become the world’s model for laws that define and protect geographically named wines, spirits, and even certain foods. For any given wine, the AOC laws stipulate, among other things, the precise area where the grapes that make the wine can be grown, the grape varieties that the wine can be made from, the permissible YIELD, aspects of VITICULTURE, such as PRUNING and irrigation, the minimum alcoholic strength of the wine, plus various details of how the wine can be made. For a given French wine to carry an appellation, it must meet all of the criteria set down in the AOC laws. Multiple appellations can exist within a larger appellation. For example, Margaux is an AOC within the AOC Haut-Médoc, which itself is an AOC within the larger AOC Bordeaux. The AOC laws evolved progressively, beginning in the 1930s. Today, most European wine-producing countries have similar, fairly stringent systems that define and govern the wines produced. In the NEW WORLD, including the United States, regulations defining the geographic boundaries of wine-producing areas are more recent. While New World regulations may specify the boundaries of a given place such as the Napa Valley, they rarely specify or regulate details, such as grape varieties, permissible yields, or how the wine can be made. See also AVA.

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