Understanding the Label - French
- Appellation contrôlée (AC) -
in theory the best-quality category of French wine, with regulations
defining vineyard, soil, grape varieties, yields, and alcohol levels.
- Clos - an enclosed vineyard.
- Cru - literally 'growth',
indicating a distinguished vineyard site in Burgundy or property in
- Vieilles Vignes - old vines.
Although unregulated, there can be a distinct bearing on quality. A
Chablis Vieilles Vignes for example, may have added concentration of
- Blanc de blancs - made from
white grapes (Chardonnay only).
- Blanc de noirs - made from red
grapes, vinified without skin contact.
- Brut - dry or dryish in style
- Demi-sec - sweet
- Doux - very sweet
- Vintage - a blend from a
single year, sold after at least three years ageing.
- Grand cru - classified
- Sélection de grains nobles -
wine made from botrytis-affected grapes.
- Vendange Tardive - 'late
harvest' / specially grown ripe grapes.
- Cru Bourgeois - classification
of chateaux in the Medoc and some of the best value-for-money wines.
- Cru-classé / grand cru-classé /
premier grand cru-classé - 'classified growth', divided into five
'tables' in the Médoc, or from the classification systems of the Graves,
Sauternes, or St Emilion.
- In Bordeaux, the name of the
château, or property, is all important.
- Domaine - estate or vineyard
holding, belonging to a grower or négociant.
- Grand cru - top or finest
- Premier cru - second highest
category of vineyard site.
- In Burgundy, the name of the
grower or négociant is extremely important.
- Sec - dry
- Demi-sec - medium to dry
- Moelleux - medium sweet to
- Sur Lie - generally associated
with Muscadet, sur lie indicates that the wine has been bottled directly
from its lees, without being racked or filtered.
- The Loire has a relatively cool
climate, so take not of the vintage.
wines are often from a specified region, appellation or cru, i.e. Côte
Rôtie. Côtes du Rhône Villages carries a higher reputation than the
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