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Oak chips are ok for Europe but not for France

Two months after the EU finally legalised the use of oak chips in winemaking, the French have taken the decision to go against the grain by banning their use for appellation controlee wines. The French regulatory body, INAO (L’Institut National des Appellations d’Origine), took this decision because it believes that the use of oak chips isn’t appropriate for AOC wines. Its view is that they are likely to mask the wines’ terroir and that only barrel-ageing will do. However, just to confuse matters, there are exceptions to the rule. Currently, seven French appellations have been granted permission to experiment with wood chips. These include four in Bordeaux as well as Anjou, Muscadet and Cote du Rhone. According to Elodie Pasty at the INAO, the experiments hope to answer some of the questions about the effects oak chips have on wine, such as whether they change the deep structure and tannins and whether a wine can be kept for a long time in the cellar when oak chips are used.