Terroir, territoire, style - what is an AOP? Part 1

Consistency, what consistency?

I wrote at great length recently about AOPs and IGPs for wine, and also recently got to taste an IGP Rhein riesling, an exceptionally rare wine to find, as the overwhelming majority of German wines fit under European AOPs. It occurred to me that I'm a little biased when it comes to wines, but I am far more like the typical customer when it comes to cheeses.

There are many cows where I live, and local cheese is widely available at farmers' markets. There have been talks, for years, about creating an IGP or an AOP for 'Tome de la Vésubie'. It makes sense that it should have a legal protection, only be allowed to be made in the Vésubie valley, and that its style be enshrined.

If someone started selling 'Tome de la Vésubie' made from Moroccan goats' milk, I would be upset and feel lied to or betrayed as a consumer. It makes sense then that the provenance, ingredients, and style be protected. When I go to the shops and buy a Brie, I expect it to be more or less the same every time, at least in overall style.

I don't particularly care about which patch of grass the cows grazed on, nor their exact breed, as long as the end style is the same and I don't feel cheated as a customer.

An IGP or AOP doesn't really cover this, at least not the way I want it to. Unless I'm buying a Brie de Meaux, from Meaux, or explicitly looking for 'a local cheese', I don't really really care about where it's from. I don't care about an AOP's strict rules too much either, whether it's set-in-stone maximal yields or the exact percentage of one milk/grape in a blend.

Why is it that our legal protections focus so much on geography and provenance? I suspect, cynic that I am, that their raison d'etre is not to help the consumer and ensure an easy purchasing decision, but to artifically limit production and keep land prices high for the lucky producers on the correct side of an AOP's geographical limit.

I started writing this as an article about how I find IGPs and AOPs inconsistent in what exactly it is that they protect and enshrine, but it's rather become a rant about legislation is really not here to help but to hurt consumers and choice. Sad!