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Who or what is hiding behind the name “Vin de France”? #wine

The name “Vin de France” (VDF) was created as part of a reform of the European wine market in 2009. It replaces the traditional designation “Vin de Table” (table wine). One also designates VDF as VSIG - Vin Sans Geographical Indication (wine without geographic origin). All French wines that are not produced under an AOP (Appellation d’Origine protégée) or IGP (Indication Géographique protégée) label, are therefore by definition a Vin de France.

It’s a relatively ungrateful wine category. Although it includes fantastic, rare wines, it also takes all the “leftovers” of French wine production. From scariest, cheap booze (whose brand names we do not want to point out here) to rare produceds from old vines... just everything. Synonymous with coarse, industrialized mass production for decades, people often forget that there are different reasons why a wine may be labeled Vin de France.

The most common reason is the grape variety. Each AOP and IGP has its own list of approved varieties. Only cultivation of these varieties gives access to an AOP or IGP. If one grows grape varieties which are not on the list, the wine is automatically labeled as Vin de France. Pierre Cros, vigneron in the Minervois, offers several cuvees that are affected by this rule: His “Mal Aimes”, made of old, Mediterranean varieties (Picpoul noir, Alicante bouchet, Aramon, Carignan), as well as his rosé “Partouse”, a cheerful mixture of Aramon, Picpoul, Morrastel and Rivairenc... He also planted italian Nebbiolo, and Portuguese Touriga Nacional at the end of the nineties. Both wines are proudly labeled “Vin de France”.

A second reason may be the location of the vineyard. If it has not been classified by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) as an AOP or an IGP, the production will be fully considered as Vin de France. Last but not least, each winemaker and each winery may incidentally also freely decide to produce Vin de France wines. Producting wines with a designation of origin may have many advantages: A certain reputation and prestige, joint actions and communication on the wine market and at fairs... But there is always a counterpart. French AOPs and IGPs have more or less strict and restrictive production rules. The choice to produce a Vin de France, may thus also be interpreted as a choice of a free and high-quality wine production.

ADVICE 1: If you have a curious palate, pay special attention to the Vin the France wines at the next visit to your favorite wine store. You could experience pleasant surprises ...

ADVICE 2: If you have a delicate palate, avoid the lower wine shelfs containing Vin de France on your next visit to the nearest supermarket. No pleasant surprise in sight...

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Parler vin avec les mains

Pierre Cros

Le Clos l’Abbé

Santa Duc

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Château du Cèdre

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