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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

According to new legislation, a French producer who exceeds the absolute maximum permitted yield, the plafond limite de classement (PLC), will now lose the right to the AOC for the entire harvest, unless the excess is sent for distillation. A decree dated 5 November 2002, governing the conditions of production and yields of all AOC wines, came into force with its publication in the Official Journal of the EU on 6 November. The decree is based on proposals made by INAO's national committee on 13 and 14 February. As now, each appellation will have a decreed maximum permitted base' yield, and may also have an annually adjusted maximum (normally 10-15% higher), and a PLC (normally 10-15% higher again.) The conditions of production and yields will now be assessed la parcelle' (on a parcel-by-parcel basis), making it more difficult to disguise a high-average yield per plant or per parcel with an apparently acceptable average yield per hectare for the combined area of production. The latter figure may be deceptively low because some plants and parcels are underproducing, masking those that are overproducing. To enforce the legislation, each appellation will have a technical Comit de Suivi des Conditions de Production. Members will be appointed by INAO on the advice of the syndicat for the defence of the appellation. The changes have been championed by Ren Renou, head of INAO, and are likely to be widely welcomed on both sides of the Channel by all those who wish to see a rise in the general standard of French wine.