How do you recognise high quality wines? Simple: look out for the "Appellation d’origine protégée", or AOP label. This registered designation does not only tell you exactly where the wine comes from, it also means that you are buying a product whose quality is thoroughly controlled at all the levels of production. In other words: with every bottle sporting the "AOP – Moselle luxembourgeoise" label, you will buy a unique piece of Luxembourg’s winemaking expertise and the wine region. But what exactly do you get for your money? We spoke with André Mehlen, the Wine Institute’s Head of the Control, Oenology and AOP Department.
Mister Mehlen, what exactly is the AOP about?
AOP products come from a defined geographical region. The quality of these products lies in their origins and the expertise of its producers. In other words, AOP products have to be from the region and have to be produced within the region.
Which regions does Luxembourg’s AOP for Moselle wines include?
The "AOP - Moselle luxembourgeoise” includes vineyards from Schengen on the French border up to Wasserbillig, as well as vineyards near Rosports. The perimeter defines exactly which vineyards may produce AOP wines.
What sets these wines so apart that they would need an AOP?
The AOP wines "Moselle luxembourgeoise" have their typicality, their style. Of course, the AOP "Moselle luxembourgeoise" lacks the notoriety of French regions such as the Bourgogne or Bordeaux – we are too small for that. Nonetheless, the quality of our products more than matches theirs. In order to underline the quality of these wines and of course out of respect for the winemakers and their dedication, these products deserve an AOP.
Is there any characteristics which links all of the AOP wines?
Typical for Luxembourg is the many different varieties. What they all excell in, is their minerality and fruitiness.
What sets the AOP apart from other labels?
The AOP labels are regulated by the EU, i.e. the European Commission set the conditions for them. Once these are fulfilled, the AOP benefits from a protection on the European level and is submitted to controls. The control itself is made by the member state – contrary to certain private labels.
Does the "AOP - Moselle luxembourgeoise" include other products apart from wines?
Still wines – white, rosé and red –, the Crémant de Luxembourg and specialty wines such as late-harvested wines, straw wines and ice wines fall under the AOP.
If they satisfy the criteria of the specifications, succeed an analytical and an organoleptic exam, only then can these products use the "AOP - Moselle luxembourgeoise" label.
You just mentioned Crémant, Luxembourg’s sparkling wine – what is this anyway?
Crémant is, just like Champagne, a quality sparkling wine. Only AOP wines can be used to create a Crémant, according to a very precisely defined production method. Every Crémant undergoes a bottle fermentation, after which it rests on yeast. This period lasts at least 9 months or, for one of the prized Crémant millésimé, 24 months. Only then can you buy the AOP Crémant.
Crémant is quite recent by the way – it has existed since 1991. Originally, its use was protected for 7 French regions and Luxembourg. Before 1991, Luxembourgers called their products ‘Schampes’ (the Luxembourgish word for Champagne). In 1991 however, usage of the term ‘champagne method’ was prohibited outside of the Champagne region. The term ‘Crémant’ was not in use, and could be used by the other French regions and Luxembourg.
Is there a difference in taste between Champagne and Crémant?
There are a few noticeable differences:
The Luxembourg Moselle enjoys a different soil and climate from the Champagne.
Moreover, Luxembourg allows more varieties than the Champagne. For example, Luxembourg Crémant can be made from Riesling, something that can't be done in the Champagne. Of course, that means that the Crémant's flavours are different from its Champagne counterpart.
Mr. Mehlen, thank you very much for your time.