The controversial proposals for reforming the French AOC system are to be presented at Vinexpo next week.

French agriculture minister Dominique Bussereau is expected to refer to the revamped proposals in his opening speech at Vinexpo.

The proposals will include a new wine category called Indication Géographique Controlée (IGC).

René Renou, president of the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine), told decanter.com he had largely won his battle to get local rules governing each AOC (the decrets) rewritten.

‘The rewriting of the decrets is starting to move forward everywhere in France now – not necessarily with universal enthusiasm, but at least the need for this is widely understood’.

Local decrets will set rigorous minimum standards for AOCs, but producers will also have the option of choosing the more flexible IGC category.

Renou said IGCs will be a simpler version of AOCs – basically an indication of regional provenance.

‘The link with a particular terroir can be less strong. IGC producers will have more liberty as the legal framework will be looser, for example in terms of yields,’ he said.

He suggested the IGC category could become the natural home for Vin de Pays in due course.

‘The focus for AOCs will now be on 5 priority areas: getting the decrets rewritten, rigorous monitoring of parcels, preservation of the terroir and environment, the approval process, and reorganisation of the professional structures so that they are more independent. Two new independent bodies will be created: there must be no more agreements between friends’.

Renou says that his ultimate objective is ‘to make the quality of AOC wines more consistent, while giving French producers the weapons to survive and compete with New World producers.’

They will be presented in detail by Renou at the INAO conference scheduled for 22 June.

Written by Rupert Joy