Emmanuelle Auriol, Jean-Baptiste Lesourd and Steven G.M. Schilizzi, with an annex by Mathilde Hulot During the second half of the twentieth century, the demand for French wines has been characterized by a strong shift towards quality, a trend that is likely to continue during the twenty-first century. The present chapter examines this trend in an international market that is becoming more and more competitive, with complex quality attributes being a key factor. Since at least the end of the nineteenth century, France has been arguably the most important wine producer in the world. The markets for French wines have traditionally been segmented into quality or fine wines, and ordinary table wines. The highest-quality French wines belong to regulated categories such as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC, or controlled denomination of origin), or Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS, or higher-quality wine from a given area). These certified quality labels guarantee that the wines in question have been produced in a traditional (and regulated) manner in one of the famous wine regions such as Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Champagne, Côtes du Rhône, Languedoc, Loire and Provence. However, there are few VDQS wines, so that most of the French quality wines are AOC wines. Moreover, the two qualities are often merged into a third category, Vins de Qualité Provenant de Régions Déterminées (quality wines from specified regions, or VDQRD). Similar denomination-of-origin schemes exist in most traditional European wine-growing countries, and also in comparatively more...
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