In France, the definition of appellations of origins is entrusted to the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine. (‘NAO). With the increase in price of appellations of origin vineyards and considering the interests at stake, Institut National des Appellations d’Origine and the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRA) established a work group in 1993 in order to study the “terroir-wine” relationship as precisely as possible, taking into account the knowledge acquired by researchers of the INRA and the experience in the field of the agents of the INAO. Four years of work by this group have allowed for significant progress to be made in the knowledge of the role of terroir in the definition of appellations of origin in France. Thus, the group carried out, among other things, a research based on the different situations in France on the respective importance of natural factors and human factors in the conception of AOC (Appellations d’Origine Contrôlées); it demonstrated how the historical and human evolution of certain regions have led to the recognition of several appellations within identical terroirs or group of terroirs, or the definition of certain AOCs within several different terroirs. This study clearly specified the respective rotes of natural factors (soil, climate) and humanfactors in the definition of AOC. It shows that in certain cases, human factors play a ro/e which is much more important than what was acknowledged so far. However, it does not diminish the essential role of terroir as an exceptional natural medium for the vineyard.
Author: JACQUES FANET
I.N.A.O., 138 Champs Elysées, 75008 PARIS