Artisan Wine Review
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The Appellation System

Several countries have enacted their own system of wine purity laws to help assure consumers of a quality wine experience.  Depending on location, these (AC) laws can regulate some or all of the following factors:
  • Designated Area of production
  • Variety of grapes allowed in a wine
  • Whether or not irrigation is allowed in the vineyards
  • Number of vines per hectare (2-1/2 acres = 1 hectare)
  • Pruning techniques
  • Fertilization methods
  • Permissible yields per hectare
  • Allowable sugar levels at time of harvest
  • Minimum and maximum allowable alcohol levels
  • If adding sugar before fermentation begins is allowable (Chaptalization) 
  • How long a certain wine must be aged before being offered to market
  • Min. percentage of one grape required to call a wine by that varietal name

Before release, all wines applying for AC status must be submitted to a special tasting panel in order to receive certification from the regulating authorities.
Governing Laws:

  • France           AOC       Appellation d’Orgine Côntrolée
  • Portugal         DOC     Denominacão de Origem Controlada
  • Spain              DO       Denominación de Origen
  • Italy               DOC     Denominazione di Origine Controllata
  • Morocco         AOG     Appellation d’ Origine Garantie
  • United States  AVA      American Viticultural Area
  • Canada          VQA      Vintner’s Quality Alliance

 Opponents of the AC system claim that its strict regulations have held old-world countries like France back from effectively competing in today’s global marketplace.   They claim, for example, that if a grower in a designated region needs to replant his vineyard, he may only use the approved grapes for that region.   If any non-permitted grapes are planted, then the resulting wine will not be allowed to use that appellation’s approved name on its label.

Supporters of the system say that the AC restrictions are precisely what made their most celebrated wines possible; by eliminating any chance of sub-standard grapes ruining a wine region’s hard won reputation for quality.

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