France: Vin de Pays
What is Vin de Pays?
Vin de pays literally translates as country wine. At last count there were 95 vin de pays designations in France covering almost two thirds of the surface area of the country. Vin de pays areas can cover an entire region, a department, or a sub-region. Vin de pays dOc (Languedoc) is one that should be familiar to all wine-drinking consumers as it supplies much of the need for cheap varietal wine. The large and varied Languedoc region is suited to producing a rainbow of varietal winesfrom Syrah to Sauvignon Blanc.
Production of vin de pays is far less mired in regulation than in Appellations dOrigine Controlée. In theory vin de pays wines are lower on the quality ladder than similar AOC wines, but there are some exceptions to this simple rule of thumb. One major difference to the consumer is that vin de pays will often carry a varietal designation; this is strictly forbidden with AOC wines. As long as California struggles to produce adequate quantities of reasonably priced fighting varietal wines, U.S. consumers will look thirstily towards southern French vin de pays.
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