Vin de Pays wines of France explained Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Vin de Pays wines of France explained
Wine appellation

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Country: France

The term Vin de Pays is loosely translated into English as 'wine of the country'. The underlying purpose of the classification is to define a hierarchy to tie down the production of wines to a particular region of France either at the regional level, the département level or a much more specific geographical level.
The first point to realise is the Vin de Pays designation does not mean that the wine is of a lesser quality than wines with an AOC designation. It may mean that the winemaker has chosen not to abide by the rules of the appellation. Thus, a winemaker in the Rhone may have decided to add some Cabernet Sauvignon to their wine thus ruling it ineligible to use the Cotes du Rhone or Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation.
One rule that is strictly enforced is that the grapes must come from the region on the label. Thus if the grapes were sourced from all through the Loire Valley then the wine may qualify for the Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France classification. If the grapes were sourced from a particular département within the Loire then it can carry a name such as Vin de Pays de Vendée or Vin de Pays du Cher. If it can be localised even further then it may qualify for a classification such as Vin de Pays des Deux-Sèvres.
Other rules that apply are that the wine must be submitted for analysis, it can only be produced from recommended grape varieties for the region and must pass a tasting test from submitted samples each vintage. There are also rules relating to sulphur content and alcohol content. The maximum yield for vin de pays is 90 hectolitres per hectare although individual vin de pays may have more restrictive requirements.
The four regional vin de pays are:
Vin de Pays du Val de Loire (formerly Vin de Pays du Jardin de la France) - covers the Loire Valley
Vin de Pays des Comtes Rhodanians - covers the Rhone, Beaujolais, the Savoie and Jura
Vin de Pays du Comte Tolosan - Covers the South West of France centered on Toulouse
Vin de Pays d'Oc - covers the Languedoc region
Sitting underneath these regional vin de pays are the département vin de pays which cover a given département (which is a political and geographic region similar to a state).
Examples are the Vin de Pays de l'Herault which covers the département of Herault and Vin de Pays de l'Ardeche which cover the département of Ardeche.
The next level is the zonal vin de pays which are closest in size and style to an appellation as they cover only a small geographic area and hence may claim to have a unique 'terroir'. Examples are Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne and Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue.
Some interesting wines that fall within vin de pays appelations include Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge from the Vin de Pays de l'Herault, Matassa Blanc from Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes, Domaine Romaneaux-Destezet Vin de Pays de l'Ardeche La Souteronne, Domaine du Mazel Cuvee Lamarde Syrah also from the Ardeche vin de pays, Domaine Barou from the Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, Domaine du Tabatau Languedoc from Vin de Pays des Monts de la Grage Geneviève and Clos du Rouge Gorge also from the Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes.
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