Monday, October 8, 2012

Going 'UNDERCOVER' to Pays D'Oc IGP by Philip S. Kampe



Going Undercover to Visit the Pays d’Oc IGP Region in France by Philip S. Kampe

I am going ‘Undercover’ on an assignment to visit the Pays d’Oc region in southern France.  My goal is to find out why this region has a special wine certification called ‘Protected Geographical Indication’, generally known as IGP. Why is this IGP seal on most bottles from Pays d’ Oc? What makes the wines meet the criteria for its existence? Why is this area of France so unusual that its rating system is its own?
Geographically, the Pays d’Oc region is a unique area that stretches along the Mediterranean Sea from the Spanish border to the Rhone delta. The areas covered add up to roughly two-hundred thousand (200,000) plus acres and include the areas of Pyreness-Orientales, Aude, Herault Gard and six towns in Lozere.
This vast area in Languendoc-Roussillon offers a wide range of contrasting landscapes and weather conditions. The majority of the vines face the Mediterranean Sea. The varied terrain includes mountains, foothills and coastal plains. The area, according to the photographs and videos I have witnessed is absolutely beautiful.
Imagine vineyards on a hillside slope facing the Mediterranean Sea on a sunny day with blue skies and Atlantic breezes. From overhead photographs, the soil is a mosaic of colors, mostly light brown to orange. Pay d’Oc region is known for its soil covers that range from clay to chalky, limestone, schist and gravel on the lower hillsides.
The laws of Pays d’Oc allow the winemaker to make wines from a range of fifty-six (56) grape varieties. These fifty-six grape varieties combined with the winemakers creativity produce truly unique wines. The winemakers say that the IGP label represents ‘the relationship between the area and the aromatic quality of the grape varieties’.
The IGP label guarantees quality, traceability and geographical origin.The IGP and AOP labels (formally AOC) are the only official European quality labels.
The wines produced in the Pays d’Oc region include reds, whites and roses. The possibilities are endless, due to the fact that the winemaker can make a single variety, two varieties combined or a blend of wines. With fifty-six grape varieties allowed, the combinations are unique and creative.
The Pays d’Oc region celebrates the harvest with the release of a Primeur wine that is released on the third Thursday in October, a month before the other new wines are released.
The region has over two-thousand five-hundred (2,500) winemakers that use the IGP certification symbol to announce to the world that they are from this unique region. My goal is to find out why this Pays d’Oc IGP region is unique to the world. What makes the wines so special?
According to the IGP governing body, “ Pays d’Oc IGP is an umbrella brand and an official certification label. It is also a unifying label, signifying quality, authenticity and imagination. The certification label has been adopted by 2700 vineyards and businesses. It ensures origin and is earned by satisfying strict quality criteria throughout the supply chain from the vine to the bottle’”
Going ‘Undercover’ has its advantages. No one knows who is behind the sunglasses and why is this person (me) making the Pays d’Oc region of France his beat?






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