Champagne only comes from Champagne, France

Appellation d'Origine Controlée (AOC)

The AOC designation links a product with its geographical origin and makes it subject to rules of production and manufacturing. It expresses the close link between a product and its terroir, coupled with the decisive and enduring impact of human savoir-faire.

Realizing the potential of a geographical area

AOC regulations go far beyond the question of geographical delimitation itself. They encompass all aspects of the production process, based on principles upheld by the INAO and relating to terroir in the largest sense. These regulations embrace all of the features that characterize an AOC product – geography, pedology, climate, technique and human in-put.

An enforceable set of rules and regulations

AOC regulations also specify the production conditions that define the product in question, covering: 

  • planting
  • viticultural practices 
  • pressing
  • pressing
  • the winemaking process from start to finish
  • labelling and packaging

Champagne: a tightly regulated AOC

Main rules of the Champagne AOC:

  • Strict delimitation
  • Approved grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane, Petit Meslier
  • Method of pruning: Royat, Chablis, Guyot, Vallée de la Marne
  • Maximum permitted yields per hectare
  • Maximum permitted press yield
  • Minimum potential alcohol content of newly harvested grapes
  • Secondary fermentation in the bottle, and minimum periods of maturation on lees: 15 months for non-vintage Champagne and three years for vintage Champagne.

These rules are constantly revised and updated

New quality-improvement measures include the following:

  • 1978 : Regulations governing the training and pruning of vines, their height, spacing and planting density. The aim is optimize fruit quality through high-density (8,000 plants per hectare) low-yield vineyards
  • 1984 :Rules forbidding the bottling of wines until the second day of January following the harvest
  • 1991 : Mandatory approval for all press centres
  • 1993 : Press yields set at 102 litres of must per 160kg grapes (up from 150 kilos)

Strengths of AOC (INAO Congress)

“An AOC area is born of an alliance between the natural environment and human ingenuity. From that alliance comes an AOC product with unique, inimitable characteristics. A product so different that it complements rather than competes with other products, possessing a particular identity that adds further value.”