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Document 52015XC0505(02)

Publication of an application pursuant to Article 50(2)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs

OJ C 147, 5.5.2015, p. 11–15 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)



Official Journal of the European Union

C 147/11

Publication of an application pursuant to Article 50(2)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs

(2015/C 147/06)

This publication confers the right to oppose the application pursuant to Article 51 of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council (1).



EU No: FR-PGI-0005-01299 — 5.1.2015

PGI ( X ) PDO ( )

1.   Name

‘Citron de Menton’

2.   Member State or Third Country


3.   Description of the agricultural product or foodstuff

3.1.   Type of product

Class 1.6: Fruit, vegetables and cereals, fresh or processed

3.2.   Description of the product to which the name in (1) applies

‘Citron de Menton’ denotes a whole fresh lemon from the following varieties of the Citrus limon species: Adamo, Cerza, Eureka, Santa Teresa and the variety known locally as ‘Menton’.

The fruit is harvested by hand. It does not receive any chemical treatment after harvesting and it is not coated in any type of wax.

It has the following characteristics:

skin colour: the lemon acquires its colour on the tree; pale to greenish yellow for the ‘early’ fruit and intense, luminous yellow when fully ripe. During the period of cold winter nights, it has a bright, almost fluorescent yellow colour,

finely granulated rind that adheres tightly to the segments,

minimum diameter of 53 mm and maximum diameter of 90 mm (measured at the equatorial cross-section of the fruit),

perfume releasing highly pronounced aroma essences of fresh citronella,

minimum juice content of 25 % of the total weight of the fruit (filtered juice),

highly perfumed juice, slightly acidic but not bitter, expressed by an E/A ratio (sugar content expressed in dry extract ‘E’/acidity expressed in citric acid ‘A’) of between 1,2 and 2,2,

classified as ‘extra’ or ‘I’ according to current legislation.

New varieties may be introduced, provided that they comply with the characteristics described above and that they are listed in the French catalogue, selected by the National Institute for Agricultural Research and have been tested for 10 years in the geographical area. After each amendment, the list of varieties is distributed to producers as well as to the inspection body and the competent supervisory authorities.

The ‘Citron de Menton’ is sold with one or two leaves attached to the peduncle of least 30 % of the fruits. The leaves, of a pale green colour, are large and lanceolate, with a slightly wavy edge.

Presentation: graded batches, loose or in punnets of under 2 kg.

When the fruit is sold loose, the grading of the ‘Citron de Menton’ is as follows: the maximum difference between the grades does not exceed the range resulting from grouping three consecutive grades on the scale (size codes).

When the ‘Citron de Menton’ is sold in punnets, all the fruits are classified as ‘extra’ and have the same size code.

3.3.   Feed (for products of animal origin only) and raw materials (for processed products only)

3.4.   Specific steps in production that must take place in the identified geographical area

The ‘Citron de Menton’ is produced and harvested in the geographical area.

3.5.   Specific rules concerning slicing, grating, packaging, etc. of the product the registered name refers to

The ‘Citron de Menton’ is packaged:

in packs of under 8 kg,

in packs of under 15 kg, only for fruit intended for processing,

in punnets of under 2 kg.

3.6.   Specific rules concerning labelling of the product the registered name refers to

The label includes the name ‘Citron de Menton’, written out in full.

4.   Concise definition of the geographical area

The geographical area stretches across the territory of the following municipalities in the department of the Alpes-Maritimes:

Castellar, Gorbio, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Sainte-Agnès and Menton.

5.   Link with the geographical area

Specificity of the geographical area

The geographical area of the ‘Citron de Menton’ has the following characteristics:

Natural factors

The geographical area of the ‘Citron de Menton’ is the northernmost lemon-growing region in the world, located between the sea (7 km from the Mediterranean as the crow flies) and the mountains (several summits reaching an altitude of over 1 000 metres). Hills roll down from these mountains from the north-east to the south-west and end abruptly in the sea at the border bridge of Saint-Louis and at Cap-Martin.

The geographical area of the ‘Citron de Menton’ is influenced by a micro-climate characterised by:

a narrow temperature range with a mild winter (average of 10 °C), apart from a short period around the end of January and the beginning of February, a pleasant but stormy spring and autumn (average of 16 °C and 70 mm of rain per month) and a hot, but not excessively hot, summer (average of 23 to 27 °C),

a high level of sunshine (2 800 hours of sunshine per year), which helps to maintain a mild temperature in winter,

mists that reduce the strength of the summer sunshine,

moderate winds: sea breeze and off-shore winds, tempered by the protection of the surrounding mountainous landscape,

a humidity of around 75 % in summer, resembling that of tropical regions.

The soil in the geographical area of the ‘Citron de Menton’ is characterised by the presence of a sandstone source rock, known as ‘grès de Menton’ (Menton sandstone). It has a sandy-clay to clay-sandy texture, resulting in aerated soil, and a relatively high pH of around 8.

There is a dense hydrographic network in the geographical area of the ‘Citron de Menton’, with numerous streams that testify to the presence of a sufficient quantity of groundwater.

Human factors

The first citrus fruit in Menton can be traced back to as early as 1341. However, the real development of citrus cultivation in Menton dates from the 17th and 18th centuries with the first legislative texts regulating citrus cultivation and the lemon trade. The zenith of ‘Citron de Menton’ cultivation and trade lasted about a hundred years, from the mid-18th to the mid-19th century. During this period, citrus cultivation was Menton’s primary economic activity. In 1956, on top of many factors such as the rural exodus that were contributing to a decline in cultivation, the lemon trees were ravaged by the ‘mal secco’ disease, which is caused by the ascomycete Phoma tracheiphila (Petri). However, local citrus cultivation has been actively revived since 1992, by safeguarding agricultural land and granting financial assistance to citrus growers. Between 2004 and 2012, 3 000 trees were planted, bringing the total number of lemon trees to 5 000 in 2012.

Historically, the Menton citrus growers mainly cultivated a local variety, known as ‘Menton’. After the ravages caused by the disease in 1956, the citrus growers started cultivating other varieties of lemon that suited the local soil and climatic conditions.

The citrus growers cultivate the ‘Citron de Menton’ on man-made terraces (known locally as ‘restanques’) that help to optimise the trees’ exposure to sunlight.

The ‘Citron de Menton’ is cultivated on irrigable plots of land, at a maximum altitude of 390 m and no further than 7 km from the sea as the crow flies.

The growers prune at least once per year, between the months of February and September, and regularly remove the ‘suckers’ (long shoots that produce little or no fruit, directing the sap away to the detriment of the fruit-bearing branches).

The fruit is picked throughout the year, depending on the lemons’ ripeness as they do not all ripen on the tree at the same time. The fruit is harvested by hand in several stages in order to select the ripe lemons. The desired colour for sale is acquired on the tree. The fruit is harvested with care: the lemons are picked individually; crates or boxes of maximum 20 kg are used (the use of bags is not permitted because of the risks of overheating).

The custom in Menton is to pick the fruit with a few leaves. It is both a recognisable feature and a guarantee of freshness. In order to prevent damage to the skin of the fruit, the peduncle of lemons picked without their leaves is cut at the base of the calyx.

5.1.   Specificity of the product

The ‘Citron de Menton’ is characterised by:

its colour, acquired naturally on the tree, which is a light yellow to greenish yellow for the ‘early’ lemons, an intense, luminous yellow when fully ripe and a bright yellow (almost fluorescent) during the period of cold winter nights,

its finely granulated rind that adheres tightly to the segments,

its intense perfume of fresh citronella, released most notably when the fruit is squeezed or rolled between the palms,

the intense perfume of its juice and its acidic, but not bitter, taste.

5.2.   Causal link between the geographical area and a specific quality, the reputation or other characteristic of the product

The causal link between the geographical area of the Menton basin and the ‘Citron de Menton’ is founded on its specific quality and reputation.

The unusual location of the geographical area of the ‘Citron de Menton’ between the sea and the mountains gives the Menton area a distinctive climate that accounts for the specific features of the ‘Citron de Menton’:

the mountainous barrier to the north protects the lemon trees from damage caused by westerly, northerly and north-easterly winds during the fruiting stage,

the sea breeze, on the other hand, is beneficial to the lemon trees as it helps to aerate them,

the hillsides in the Menton area, with their sandstone source rock, have for centuries been a good place to plant citrus trees on man-made terraces at up to 390 m above sea level (higher than this, the climate is unfavourable). These terraces improve production (the soil is aerated), limit the risks of frost and guarantee that the fruit will ripen (heat is released),

the unusual humidity of the Menton basin, resembling that of a tropical climate, favours lemon cultivation,

the mild climate thanks to the proximity of the sea (plots of land located at less than 7 km from the sea as the crow flies) and the mists in the hot season that reduce the strength of the sun limit the concentration of sugars and contribute to the acidic, but not bitter, taste of the ‘Citron de Menton’,

the distinctive intense colour of the ‘Citron de Menton’ is largely due to the narrow range of day time/night time temperatures,

the relative cold of the Menton area between mid-January and the end of February helps produce fruit with a good colour, an acidic taste and suitable for keeping,

the fact that the area is not excessively damp and the Spring and Autumn rains are of short duration, along with the absence of arable crops and the small size of the orchards as well as the cultivation practices (particularly pruning), give the area an exceptional local biodiversity that helps to control the spread of parasites, resulting in a very healthy crop despite plant protection products being used only in absolutely exceptional circumstances,

this lemon’s remarkable disease-free quality and suitability for keeping also explains why post-harvest treatments (fungicides) and wax coatings are not required.

The pruning practices help to produce juicy fruit of a good size. The scope for irrigation and harvesting customs (by hand, in several stages, with the greatest care) also result in fruit of excellent quality, both in terms of appearance (undamaged rind, almost no defects) and in terms of taste (well ripened on the tree, resulting in the minimum juice content and E/A ratio, the fruit is not degreened).

The national and worldwide reputation of the ‘Citron de Menton’ is due to its particular qualities. An entire book is dedicated to it: ‘Le Citron de Menton’, published by ROM (December 2005).

The ‘Citron de Menton’ is highly prized, for the quality and perfume of both its zest and its juice, by great French chefs such as Alain Ducasse (‘Louis XV’ in Monaco), Paul Bocuse (‘les frères Troisgros’) or Joël Robuchon, who describes it as: ‘a unique perfume, delicately acidic flavour and highly perfumed rind’.

The particular qualities of the ‘Citron de Menton’ also explain why it is highly sought after for numerous processed products: pastries, lemon liqueur, jams, flavoured olive oil etc.

The Menton ‘Fête du Citron’ (Lemon Festival) has been gathering thousands of spectators since 1934 (200 000 visitors in 2011) from France and abroad. It is the third most popular event in the Alpes-Maritimes. Floats decorated with lemons and oranges parade through the town of Menton and floral compositions based on citrus fruits adorn its gardens.

Reference to publication of the product specification

(the second subparagraph of Article 6(1) of this Regulation (2))

(1)  OJ L 343, 14.12.2012, p. 1.

(2)  See footnote 1.