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AOC: how to obtain this label to sell your wines?

When it comes to marketing quality wines, the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC - registered designation of origin) is a coveted label. What are the steps involved in obtaining an AOC to optimise the sale of your wines? Dive into the world of France's most famous AOC wines.

What is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC)?

What is the difference between an AOC, an PDO and an IGP?

Understanding the distinction between the terms AOC, PDO and PGI is essential for understanding the quality and origin of a wine product.

  • Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC): AOC (registered designation of origin) is a French label guaranteeing the authenticity and geographical origin of a product, in this case wine. It is an official recognition awarded to certain French agricultural products, based on strict criteria relating to the terroir, grape varieties and production and vinification practices. This protected designation ensures that the wine is made according to rigorous standards specific to a given region. The AOC is therefore both a guarantee of quality and a protection of the product's regional identity.
  • Protected Designation of Origin (PDO): PDO is a term used at European level to designate products similar to the French AOC. Following reforms in European legislation, the PDO is gradually replacing the AOC for food products throughout the European Union. So, outside France, you will often find the term AOP on wine labels to indicate a designation protected by specific terroir and production criteria.
  • Protected Geographical Indication (PGI): the PGI is a less restrictive label than the AOC or AOP. It also guarantees a specific geographical origin, but the criteria are less strict. This gives producers greater flexibility in their choice of grape varieties and production methods. Wines bearing the PGI label can represent a more modern and creative interpretation of the local vineyard, offering greater variety while preserving a regional identity.

In short, the fundamental difference lies in the degree of specificity and rigidity of the production rules. Whereas AOC and PDO impose strict criteria to preserve authenticity and tradition, PGI offers a more flexible approach, allowing producers to play with specific elements while retaining a certain attachment to the region of origin.

How can a product be awarded a registered designation of origin?

How do you know if a wine has the AOC label?

Identifying a wine with the AOC label is essential for wine lovers looking for authentic, quality products. Here are some reliable ways of determining whether a wine has been awarded the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC - registered designation of origin) label:

  • Label and bottle: careful examination of the label and bottle can provide clues to AOC certification. AOC wines generally carry specific wording on the label, such as "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" or the AOC logo, indicating compliance with the strict standards set for the region of origin.
  • Geographical indication: the label should also include a precise geographical indication, mentioning the wine-growing region of origin. For example, a wine from Bordeaux will clearly mention this renowned region. Mention of the region is an important indicator of the wine's authenticity.
  • INAO logo: the Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) is the body that oversees the award of AOCs in France. The presence of the INAO logo on the label guarantees that the wine has undergone rigorous controls to ensure its compliance with established standards.
  • Online research: The Internet is a valuable resource for checking the authenticity of a wine. Many websites, including that of the INAO, provide detailed information on producers and AOC wines. A quick search can confirm whether the wine in question really does have the AOC label.
  • Ask the wine merchant or producer: wine merchants and producers are well informed about the origin and quality of the wines they offer. Asking about the AOC of a specific wine can provide in-depth details about its production process and authenticity.
  • Official documentation: some AOC wines may be accompanied by official documents issued by the relevant authorities. These documents can be consulted to verify the authenticity of the wine.

It is important to note that the absence of any one of these elements does not necessarily guarantee that the wine is not of good quality. However, the presence of several of these indicators increases the likelihood that the wine is authentic and has the AOC label. The consumer's vigilance and curiosity are valuable allies in the search for high quality wines of authentic provenance.

What are the most famous AOC wines in France?

Château Margaux

One of the most popular AOC wines is the famous Château Margaux. Located in the Médoc region, this red wine is world-renowned for its exceptional terroir and traditional production methods.

Dom Pérignon

Another gem of the AOC is Dom Pérignon champagne. This elegant champagne, which as its name suggests comes from the Champagne region, is the result of a meticulous blend of grape varieties and a production method dedicated exclusively to this region.


In the Burgundy region, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is an undisputed benchmark. Its wines, made from small, specific plots, demonstrate the quintessence of the Burgundy AOC, earning it a prestigious place in the world of wine.

Use of registered designation of origin as a sign of quality in the wine sector

As well as being a guarantee of quality, AOCs serve as a distinctive sign in the wine sector. Consumers often associate these designations with a very high quality tasting experience, reinforcing the reputation of producers and the commercial appeal of their wines. The pursuit and preservation of AOCs are therefore essential pillars for producers wishing to stand out in the marketplace.

Obtaining an AOC for your wines not only represents recognition of quality and authenticity, it's also a powerful way of standing out in the marketplace. By understanding the nuances between AOC, PDO and PGI, and carefully following the strict criteria, producers can create wines that truly embody the spirit of their region. For those looking to deepen their expertise in wine and gastronomy management, programmes such as Sup de Luxe's MSc Luxury Gastronomy & Wine Management offer a pathway to an in-depth understanding of the sector, combining tradition and innovation for sustainable success.

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