The taste of wine can only attain its singularity and become inimitable when it has received the mark of its terroir and microclimate. Everywhere on earth the 4 components – heat, light, water and soil/subsoil – combine differently in a unique way.
This is the subtlety of each appellation that plants, vines, olive trees, etc. grasp in every instance in their own ways. The greatness of the appellations is based on this understanding, which also guarantees consumers a taste connected to the uniqueness of a specific place.
For vines to fully embrace their terroir with their roots (mineralogy of the soil and subsoil, the orientation of the slope, etc.), they must be alive and free of weed killers that destroy all microorganisms. In order to successfully capture their climate and its endless variations – wind, slope, humidity, etc – the plant must develop as naturally as possible. In particular, the leaves must be free of synthetic chemical products that perturb photosynthesis and all other levels of the living plant’s development.
When healthy farming (organic or biodynamic) allows the spirit of a place to express itself, cellar interventions and the arbitrary tastes they can create become unnecessary and detract from this expression. The wine then retains the taste of its origins and its ability to age, with complete transparency for the consumer.
We must respect a charter of quality
The rating system below necessarily includes all of the demands for organic agriculture and goes beyond them in order to allow an appellation to fully express itself. 3 levels have been determined:
Level 1 provides the necessary basics that must be implemented throughout the entire property for a minimum of 3 years.
Level 2 is the logical continuation of this philosophy
Level 3 is the achievement of a long enduring process; it can however be challenged by climatic conditions.
This system incites the wine grower to work better. It also informs the customer about the effects each action in the vineyard and the cellar has on the expression of an appellation. Our goal is not to create a hierarchy among growers based on their work, but to bring those who share a common philosophy of wine closer together, whether they are wine producers, distributors or consumers. Our goal is also to recover the full meaning of what an appellation is, in France and elsewhere, and thus set ourselves apart from the kind of competition that has been increased through technology and the lack of typicity it has brought.
All the wine growers in the Renaissance des Appellations group must satisfy the first level of the charter at least. New members must be approved unanimously by the tasting committee members in attendance (and not by the majority). More information is available on request.
The administrative committee of the Renaissance des Appellations group includes:
- Alsace :; JP Frick ; M. Zusslin
- Jura : Stéphane Tissot
- Champagne : D. Leclapart
- Bourgogne : P. Morey, Pierre de Benoist ; E Giboulot
- Bordeaux : JL Hubert ; C Laval
- Rhone : Helene Thibon
- Loire: N. Joly ; Ph Gourdon
- Provence : Raimond de Villeneuve ;
- Languedoc Roussillon : JF Deu , Olivier Durant
- Italie : S Bellotti
- Espagne : D Soto
- Allemagne/Autriche : C Saahs, W Michlits
- Australie : J Castagna
- N.Zelande : J Millton
The Return of the AOC
Level 1: The Absolute Basics
Organic certification for the entire domain (following a 3-year conversion period), plus a minimum of 2 years of biodynamics. (For more information, please refer to organic farming requirements). The key points are:
- Cultivation of soils, or cover crops – weed killers strictly prohibited.
- Composting or natural fertilisers to foster microbial life in the soils.
- Prohibition of chemical fertilisers that perturb the life of the soils and the metabolism of vines.
- Exclusive use of natural products to fight diseases.
- Exclusion of all synthetic chemicals (surface, penetrating or systemic products – refer again to the technical specifications for organic agriculture for greater detail).
- Exclusion of genetically modified vine plants.
- Local wild yeasts from the vineyard must be used exclusively; all aromatic dehydrated yeasts or genetically modified yeasts must be banned. (Over 350 are allowed in Europe to generate 350 arbitrary flavours in wine.) Neutral re-yeasting is permitted for Champagnes, Champagne method and cremants to produce bubbles.
- No addition of wood chips is allowed.
- Reverse Osmosis is banned along with any physical or chemical treatment that aims to reduce volatile acidity.
- Precipitation agents (CMC – Carboxy, Methyl Cellulose) are banned.
- Anti-oxidation agents: potassium sorbate is banned. The use of sulphur is tolerated, in natural form preferably. Neither sulphur nor sterile filtrations are truly satisfactory. Sulphur is a natural product that cruciferous plants (radishes, mustard, etc) and most indigenous yeasts produce. Sulphur and or sterile filtration remain necessary in a certain number of situations. Volcanic sulphur is preferable to synthetic sulphur.
- Exclusion of 200% new wood.
- Respect of natural fermentation processes by the exclusion of any nitrogen deficiency correction (sulphites, phosphates, etc.), fermentation activation agents (vitamins, thiamine, yeast shells, etc), the addition of enzymes, bacteria or any products resulting from synthetic chemistry, as well, of course, of any aromatic additives (which are authorised in some countries).
Level 2: Going Farther
- Manual selection of future vines in order to respect and increase biodiversity. True massal selection, no clones for future plantings.
- Respect for the natural developmental conditions of the plant including meteorological influences. Prohibition of any form of irrigation for all European producers.
- Manual harvesting assuring greater respect for the grapes. No machine harvesting.
- The natural richness of the wine is respected: no chaptalisation or industrial concentration processes including no cryo-extraction (freezing the grapes).
- No modification of the natural balance of the must or the wine; acidification or de-acidification in any form is banned.
- No addition of gum Arabic.
- Biodynamic agriculture for a minimum of 3 years.
Level 3: When Conditions Allow
- Manual harvesting in several passes.
- No sterile filtration or anything below 2 microns. No centrifugal filtering.
- No collage
- Organic or biodynamic certification for at least 7 years (full restoration of the vineyard’s ecosystem).
- Respect for the natural developmental conditions of the plant including meteorological influences. Prohibition of any form of irrigation for all new-world producers.
In the event of difficult climatic conditions, an exceptional dispensation may be accorded in cellar practices. The person concerned should note this in the catalogue that is published for the group’s meetings and events.
I, the undersigned……………………………..respect the level(s)………………….of the quality charter throughout my entire production.
Signed in……………………………………, on ……………………