Vin de pays is a French term meaning “country wine”. Vins de pays are a step in the French wine classification that is above the table wine (Vin de table) classification, but below Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC).
Legislation on the Vin de pays terminology was created in 1973 and passed in 1979,allowing producers to distinguish wines that were made using grape varieties or procedures other than those required by the AOC rules, without having to use the simple and commercially non-viable table wine classification. Unlike table wines, which are only indicated as being from France, Vin de pays carries a geographic designation of origin. The producers have to submit the wine for analysis and tasting, and the wines have to be made from certain varieties or blends. Regulations regarding varieties and labeling practices are typically more lenient than the regulations for AOC wines. In 2009, the Vin de pays classification was replaced by the new IGP – Indication Géographique Protégée, or Protected Geographical Region – designation.
There are six regional Vins de Pays, which cover large areas of France. The most voluminous contributor to this category of wines is Vin de Pays d’Oc, from the Languedoc-Roussillon area in Mediterranean France. The second largest volume of Vin de Pays wines is produced as Vin de Pays de la Loire, a designation that applies to wines from the whole Loire Valley. The others are: Vin de Pays du Comté Tolosan (south-west), Vin de Pays de Méditerranée (south-east, Provence and Corsica) and Vin de Pays des Comtés Rhodaniens (Rhone valley). Plus, two further regional Vin de Pays designations, Vin de Pays de l’Atlantique (Bordeaux and Charentes (Cognac)) and Vin de Pays Vignobles de France (all of wine-making France) were approved by French authorities in 2007. The Vin de Pays Vignobles de France has now been replaced by a table wine designation Vin de France, launched in August 2009.
The local, or zone-defined Vins de pays are numerous, and may take their name from some historical or geographical phenomenon, such as Vin de Pays des Marches de Bretagne or Vin de Pays des Coteaux de l’Ardeche, or even a more locally specific variant. The boundaries of a zone may reflect a consistent terroir, rather than an administrative convenience, and could potentially in the long run achieve the status of an AOC.