Bordeaux wine production is massive in size and scope. In total, Bordeaux has close to 125,000 hectares under vine, making it the largest and most important wine producing region in France and the world.
There are currently 7,375 different chateaux in the region. Each estate has an average of 17 hectares of vines. Those 7,375 wineries make more than 10,000 different wines. Each of those vineyards are situated in appellations all over Bordeaux.
As of the year, 2015, there are 60 Bordeaux appellations in the region that are recognized by the AOC, the Appellation d’Origine Controlle, giving Bordeaux more appellations than any other wine region in France as well as in all of Europe.
The AOC system, was created by the French Government to grant select areas official status for their agricultural products, due to the specific terroir and soil of the area. The French Governmental department controlling the AOC designations is the INAO, Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualite. The initial creation of the Bordeaux appellation system began taking place in 1936. The purpose of the AOC system, (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) which is used for food and other agricultural products makes very good sense. The purpose behind the AOC system is simple.
When a product comes from one specific area, it’s the uniqueness of the place due, to its terroir that gives the wine or other agricultural product its special character, style and identity.
For a Bordeaux chateau to sell their wine using the status of their Bordeaux appellation on the label, the chateau must abide by the following official rules as set forth by the INAO: The chateau and vineyards must be located inside the geographical boundaries of the appellation. The chateau must agree to follow the specific rules and regulations set forth by the appellation for vineyard practices. This include only planting allowable grapes varieties, minimum and maximum yields, minimal sugar and alcoholic levels, as well as established practices for vinification. These rules and regulations usually insist that the wine must be produced in the appellation and only from grapes planted within the appellation, unless an exception is granted.
The wine must also be vinified inside the appellation, unless an exception has been granted. The wines must be bottled by the chateau and are subject to a blind tasting. These are the minimum standards and practices set forth by the AOC. Any serious producer goes well beyond the official rules of the appellation.
If you are interested in learning more about Bordeaux, please visit The Wine Cellar Insider.