Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC)—roughly translated as “controlled designation of origin”—is a French certification based on the concept of terrior (“tare-WAH”). Terrior hypothesizes that a region’s geography, climate, flora and fauna impart a distinctive, regionally-specific quality upon the cheeses produced there.
The concept of AOC in France dates back to the 15th century when Roquefort’s region of origin was first regulated by a parliamentary decree. The AOC program was formalized in 1925 with Roquefort receiving the first official AOC certification. Since that time, over 40 French cheeses have been assigned AOC status.
Today AOC cheese certifications are managed under the auspices of the government bureau Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO).