What is "Appellation d’origine"?
‘Appellation d’origine’ is, under French law, ‘the name of a country, region, or locality used to designate a product which originates there, the quality and characteristics of which are due to the geographical situation, including natural and human factors’. The literal translation is ‘name (appellation) of origin (d’origine)’.
The use of ‘Appellation d’origine’ is to protect wines (e.g. Bordeaux, Champagne), cheeses (e.g. Roquefort), and other products such as lentils (Puy), and poultry (Bresse). It basically means that someone in South Africa may produce a quality sparkling wine, but they may not call it ‘champagne’ because that name is restricted to sparkling wines produced in the region of Champagne, France. In fact, even sparkling wines produced in France, but not from Champagne cannot legally be called champagne – they are called crémant.
The EC has adopted this system, and foods and wines within the EC are subject to ‘appellation d’origine’. Watch out for the difference between ‘appellation d’origine’ and ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’. The former can refer to various food products, while the latter refers only to wine.
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