Saint Nectaire is an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), a certification given to French agricultural products based on a set of clearly defined standards. For example, it must be made of cow’s milk in a specifically delimited area in the Monts-Dore region. The Appellation was first recognized at a national level and awarded AOC status in 1955.
At that time, the Saint-Nectaire cheese was only produced on farms from milk from their own cows. When the appellation was accorded, industrial milk and dairy factories were also allowed to produce Saint-Nectaire. To differentiate between products made from the two processes, farmstead cheeses are marked with a small oval label in green casein, while a square label is applied to industrial cheeses. In 1996, a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) was given to Saint-Nectaire, extending name protection to the entire European Union. A new appellation, “petit-Saint-Nectaire” (meaning “small Saint-Nectaire”), given to cheeses that weigh 600 grams, was later included in the specifications.