Wine Classifications

Exploring France

Here we go for another Wine Wednesday.  We travel from Italy to France for this week’s lesson which is really just dipping our toes in incredibly complicated system.  

Vin de France is the new moniker for Vin de Table wines, which was the name for a table wine from France up until 2010. Essentially, these just mean that the wine was made in France, but does not have a classification regarding the region or appellation, however some will have the variety and vintage. 

IGP- Indication Geographique Protégée is also known as Vin de Pays, so you may see IGP or VdP on the label, but it means the same thing.  With an IGP wine there are some regulations but not as strict as with an AOP wine. 

AOP – Appellation d’Origine Protégée means that the wine was produced in a regulated region and can be part of that region, or a specific area in the region.  Depending on the region’s own classification will be how much detail goes into the label. The French pride themselves on their wine, and each area has something to offer, which is where things get tricky.  Every region has it’s own rules on the grape varietals, growing conditions and quality. 

Within the AOP are additional classifications, Grand Cru and Premier Cru.  Grand Cru is the highest classification of French wine and the Premier Cru is the highest level within Grand Cru.  These have the most regulations and relate to specific plots of land.  For example, a vineyard could be AOP and only 1 hectare of the vineyard could have the classification Grand Cru because of the soil requirements.  

Like I said, a bit confusing!  Something to remember though is just because a wine is labeled a Premier Cru, does not necessarily mean that it is guaranteed to be better than a Vin de France.  In theory, it should be the best, but in practice and with the right winemaker and climate, it could be anyone’s game. 

Here are a few wines to try from each classification!  

Vin de France
Bougrier Vin de France Chenin V

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IGP
Chene Bleu Rose 2017

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AOP
Domaines Barons de Rothschild Legende Pauillac 2014 

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– Grand Cru
Louis Latour Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2015

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– Premier Cru
Champagne Extra Brut Rilly la Montagne Premier Cru “Montagne 1999”

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Let me know if you try any and what you think about them! 

A great place to order these is from 90+ Cellars, lots of affordable options to choose from!

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