The French appellation system is made up of 3 tiers.
- Vin de France.
- IGP (Indication géographique protégée)
- AOP (Appellation d’origine protégée)
Each tier comes with increasingly stringent requirements, but in many cases, comes with the benefit of increased name recognition.
The Vin de France level comes with very few requirements, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many outstanding producers use the Vin de France title when they want to experiment with new varieties or winemaking styles that would otherwise not be allowed.
The IGP level covers wines made from specific geographical areas and with slightly tighter rules than the Vin de France title. One of the most famous IGPs is the Pays d’Oc, which producers in south France use for wines made from varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Finally, the AOP level is the most stringent, and includes France’s most famous regions like Champagne, Alsace, or Châteauneuf-du-Pape. To qualify for these titles, producers must follow pages of requirements ranging from which varieties and pruning methods can be used to what kinds of containers can be used to transport grapes to the winery.
A common question — what is the difference between AOP and AOC?
In 2012, France replaced its existing classification system, which replaced AOC (Appellation d’origine controlée) with AOP (Appellation d’origine protégée). It also deprecated the Vin de Table, Vin de Pays, and Vin délimité de qualité supérieure categories and replaced them with Vin de France and IGP.