Cheese becomes first Swiss product to win AOC approval

A cheese called Etivaz has become the first Swiss product to win approval for an AOC classification. The ruling is a prestigious endorsement of quality, and protects the brand by placing strict limits on how and where the cheese can be produced.

This content was published on January 29, 2000 - 15:45

A type of cheese called Etivaz has become the first Swiss product to win approval for an AOC classification. The ruling is a prestigious endorsement of quality, and protects the brand by placing strict limits on how and where the cheese can be produced.

AOC classifications are most commonly associated with French wines. By winning the right to designate their wines "appellation d'origine controlée" producers agree to produce wines of consistent quality from specified varieties of grapes, grown in a particular region.

In exchange, producers enjoy a number of safeguards, including guarantees that no one outside their region will be allowed to market or sell products under the same name. The wines of Champagne are the best-known example. Only producers inside the region may print the word "Champagne" on their sparkling wines.

Now, for the first time, the Swiss ministry of agriculture has conferred similar protections on Etivaz cheese.

The ruling comes in the midst of a long-running debate over whether Switzerland's famous Gruyère cheese should also enjoy AOC classification. The ministry of agriculture has delayed a decision because of several outstanding questions, including whether it is possible to classify Gruyère in such a narrow way.

The problem stems from the difficulties in defining both the region's boundaries and the methods of production.

From staff and wire reports

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