Appellation contrôlée (AC)

appellation contrôlée (AC) – in full, appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) the French term for a demarcated region of production, originally for wine (the first was for Châteauneuf-du-Pape in 1923) but now covering all manner of comestibles from cheeses to chickens. Portugal’s Douro claims to have had the first such system, devised in 1756; however, Hungary classified their vineyards in 1700 and Tuscany’s Carmignano had a go in 1716 and they both also claim the original honours. It’s the French term that has stuck and I use it rather than ‘controlled appellation’ which sounds daft (especially in the US – there is very little control of anything in the Appalachians, as anyone who has watched the film Deliverance will know). Most national systems are based on the French model and the regulatory authority will not only demarcate the geographical area but also stipulate which grape varieties may be used, maximum yields, parameters for alcohol content and so on; in general, the smaller and more prestigious the region, the more hoops must be jumped through. Fundamentally such systems are best thought of as having a purpose similar to the UK Trades Description Act and are designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous producers. Conversely, narrowness restricts the output of scrupulous producers – to the extent that some of the best wines in Europe have to call themselves vin de pays or vino da tavola. Apple Martini/Appletini – the cider of the gods is made with two parts gin (or vodka) stirred with one part apple schnapps and poured in to a chilled cocktail glass.

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