INAO president René Renou is enforcing a series of radical new directives for the French appellation system.

In London last week to meet UK journalists, Renou agreed there are poor French AC wines, and explained he understood the threat of competition from other countries is the essential spur to reforming the appellation system.

Renou is reshaping the appellation system through a series of new directives. The rules that cover the agrément – the tasting that decides whether a wine merits its appellation – have been tightened up and were voted into law on 7 December last year.

In the past the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) maintained that appellation contrôlée guaranteed only that wine came from a particular place, with no guarantee of quality. This has changed. Quality is central, and every parcel, as opposed to samples, will be subject to inspection.

A more radical directive on yields was approved by Ministers on 18 February this year and should become law at a later date. Under this new ruling, AC producers whose yields are excessive will have their whole crop declassified. Vineyards that have more than 25% dead vines will also be declassified. This will stop producers from balancing excessive yields in one part of the vineyard with a virtually dead parcel of vines.

‘We must stop overproduction, which is killing off the nation’s great asset,’ Renou said.

The new rules will be enforced by the INAO. ‘Every parcel in the country which claims AOC status could be visited by agents of the commision,’ Renou said

Written by Jim Budd6 March 2002