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    How French Wines Are Classified

    Since the early days of Viniculture dating back to 500 BC, France has been a leader in high quality wine production. Modern France produces up to 8 billion wine bottles annually and a great deal of its fame has to do with well-structured regulations and rules. 

    Read on to find out what makes its terroir-driven certifications such as AOC, AOP, I.G.P, and Vin de France globally-accepted. 

    The AOC System

    Decreed by the French Government in 1411, AOC or Appellation d'Origine Controlee is translated as ‘Protected Designation of Origin’. It’s a French certification that officially recognizes prominent locations for wines, cheese, and other agricultural products. Today there are over 500 AOCs designated by the Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité (INAO).

    Here are some facts about the AOC:

    • AOC creates rules for naming French wines.
    • To attain AOC certification, the specific grape varietal must be grown in the allotted geographical location.
    • AOC was made to combat the overproduction of low-grade wines in the 1930s.
    • The seal of AOC was made in the 1950s.
    • Over 60% of French wines are certified by AOC.
    • Rules of AOC can be found in cashies des charges, which is derived on the basis of soil, climate, and cultural winemaking techniques.

    What Are The Different Classifications Of French wine

    There are the three different categories for certifying the quality of French wines as shown below.

    Vin de France 

    The starting quality certification for wines made in France, Vin de France was originally called Vin de Table, as it translates to French table wines. Such a certification is given to wines or blendsmade from any geographical location in France. 

    Created in 2018, there are no quality restrictions for these wines, except that the origin country must be France. It allows vintners to include the grape varietal, year of production, and vintage on the label. 

    Indication Geographique Protegee (I.G.P)

    Replacing the old Vin de Pays, I.G.P regulates criteria like varietal, yield, ABV, sulphur, and acidity measurement. There are three types of I.G.P: regional, departmental and zonal. This is a mid-category certification to certify wines made from protected regions. 

    Regional includes wines originating from places such as Loire Valley, the Rhone, Beaujolais, Jura, Savoie, and Languedoc. Departmental constitutes wines from administrative districts and zonal includes zones of small areas recognized by AOC.

    Appellation d'Origine Protegee (AOP)

    Called ‘Protected Designation of Origin’, AOP is the same as AOC. In short, wines made after 2012 use this designation instead of the AOC. This refers to rules based on grape varietals, production requirements, and quality of wine, making it the highest quality regulation for French wines. 

    Popular French Wines From The Best Wine Clubs 

    It’s hard to find high quality best wines online from France on your own. Check the below list of three prominent wine clubs with Vin de France, AOC, and I.G.P certifications to get started. 


    An AOC certified blend from Vinebox, Château Suau Bordeaux is a 2009 wine with medium body featuring tastes of spice, black plum, and red berries. The oak matured red wine from the top rose wine club is best paired with roasted ham or truffles. 


    Certified as Vin de France, Le Partisan 2018 is a red medium bodied wine donned with lavender scents and notes of spicy oak. The red blend from the best red wine club goes well with game meats. 

    Wine Insiders

    One of the best floral French wines guaranteed by the seal of I.G.P, 2017 Georges Vigouroux Hommage Sauvignon Blanc is a refreshing white wine available from a trustworthy white wine club. Hints of peach and citrus makes this soothing, which complements seafood and cheeses. 

    Bottom Line

    While AOC was the first and foremost certificate in France since the 15th century, today it has evolved in AOP, I.G.P, and Vin de France to specify Protected Designation of Origin, Protected Indication of Geography, and table wines. 

    If you’re looking for the best French wine gifts, it is best to pick a genuine one with AOC, AOP, or I.G.P certification.