Just bought vineyards in France ? Just a minute…. PART 3 – The 85/15% Rule

Last time, we saw the very unique French regulation concerning the use of the term “Château” or “Domaine”.(Part 2)

Here is another tricky one, very little known by consumers.

In labeling , the Community legislation (Articles 61 and 62 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 607/2009 of 14 July 2009) allows any winemaker since 2002 using the so-called rule  » of 85/15  » for the vintage or grape variety, subject the specifications of the relevant AOC (Local regulations) do not contain specified otherwise.

Concerning the variety, if a single varietal name is mentioned on the label, it must consist of at least 85% of the wine concerned: as a wine labeled « merlot » may hold 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. If the label says two or more vine varieties, the wine must be made from 100% of the mentioned varieties, quoting in descending order of the proportion used and in characters of the same size.

But the French Decree No. 2012-655 of 4 May 2012 relating to the labeling and traceability of wine products came to bring an additional restriction: the mentioned varieties must represent more than 15% of the blend.

Concerning the vintage, Under Article 61 of EC Regulation No. 607/2009 , the indicated vintage can be used once the lot of wine comes from at least 85% of the year of harvest concerned: if a batch of 200 hl of AOC Saint-Estèphe is marketed with the 2008 vintage , at least 170 hl must actually be from the 2008 harvest.


Jean-Baptiste THIAL de BORDENAVE, Head of LexWine (@LEXWINE_IP)