For several years now, consumers organizations and the press have alerted the public to the degradation of appellation (AOC) wines in France. Let us recall that in December 1995 consumer magazine UFC Que Choisir published an enquiry (Vins français, la qualité en peril = French wine, quality endangered) questioning in a well argued article the quality of wines and the authenticity of the claims of French AOCs. We also recall that Alain Berger, at the time director of INAO, declared in this article that “one can find on the market today some horrible products marked with the AOC label… AOC wines today represent half of the French production by volume. It is too much, we must stop this now”.
Finally we recall that the winemaker’s unions at that time arrogantly and violently attacked Que Choisir, and managed to get Alain Berger fired.
In its announcement on September 3rd, 2007, UFC Que Choisir asks the same question again, 12 years later: for wine consumers, is the AOC label reliable? Sève, an association of winemakers founded in order to obtain a radical reform of the appellation system, agrees with the answer given by UFC Que Choisir: No! Because “the loss of credibility of the AOCs is explained also by the coexistence within the appellations of two types of wine with very different quality-price ratios, and which must now be officially separated: on the one hand, wines that have a strong link to terroir that respect the original definition of AOC, on the other hand wines with less character that correspond to a new market demand, and that should develop outside of the appellation system. By distinguishing these two categories with distinct labels, we can satisfy the double requirement of making consumer choices clearer while safeguarding the AOC heritage.” (UFC Que Choisir)