Mar 1, 2013

French Wine Vocab

The French language is romantic, host to an overflowing pool of Nobel Prizes for Literature, and can be a bit tricky to pronounce correctly. Here's a small illustrated guide to the pronunciation, meaning, and usage of some key French terms when talking about wine. Put some to use when attending the Wine Festival of Colorado Springs, whose theme this year is Wines of France.

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Cru, Premiere Cru, Grand Cru
Cru refers to the potential of the terroir of the vineyard, and directly translates to "growth." This term is not controlled in the US, but is in France. Many Grand Cru (the highest classification) vineyards will limit production in order to maintain quality standards.

The Alsace region in northeast France is home to over 50 Grand Cru sites. 

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Literally translates to vat, or tank. Refers to the specific batch of wine. When followed by numbers on a label, it will denote which specific batch that bottle came from. Cuvée, vendange, and réserve are sometimes confused with reference to a wine's origin and quality, in part due to the differing international standards for these terms.

This cuvée is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Appellation, Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC)
(ah/pell/ah/syon doh/ree/zheen kon/trohl/lay) 
Appellation was established in order to verify the regional identity of a certain wine. International appellation is modelled after France's AOC system, which translates to controlled designation of origin, also applies to products such as cheese, lavender, and honey. 

The AOC of the Loire wine region is Anjou, or Anjou-Coteaux de la Loire.

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Vin de table, Vin de pays, Vin Délimité de Qualité Superieur (VDQS), AOC
(va day/lee/mee/tay də kah/lee/tay s’ew/pay/ryøhr)
These terms are classifications of the wine, and regulate elements of the wine such as pH, crop yield, and sulfur dioxide levels.

I cannot afford to serve an AOC bottle at my dinner party, so I'll settle for the bargain vin de table.

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The French term for grape harvest, also translates to "vintage."

The Alsace region is known for its vendange tardive, or a late grape harvest. 

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Popularly thought to designate a higher quality wine, this term is probably just a marketing ploy. There is no regulation of the use of this term, except in Austria and Iberia. Vinters will use the word cuvée instead to designate a particularly special bottle because there is more regulation with that word.

Oh man, I spent an extra $10 on this reserve bottle but it tastes worse than the Yellow Tail.

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The most beastly, ambiguous, all-encompassing, and hard to define word for non-French wine appreciators. Terroir describes all the growing conditions of the grape, such as soil, climate, and air. The French emphasize terroir because of the distinctive taste grapes get from their region.

The terroir of this vineyard is famous for producing very crisp Chardonnay.

Looking for more wine fun? Click here to see all posts on Wine Fest, as well as last year's highlighted vocab.

Wine Fest horiz
Wine Festival of Colorado Springs
March 7 - 9

The Enduring Cachet of French Wine

Friday, March 8, 5:30p | The Broadmoor | 1 Lake Avenue
$35 per guest | Invite friends!
Buy Tickets Online Here!

Grand Tasting and Wine Market Auction

Friday, March 8, 7p | The Broadmoor | 1 Lake Avenue
$65 FAC members; $85 non-members | Become a FAC Member and save $20 per ticket! | Invite friends!

Buy Tickets Online Here!


French Wine, But What Cheese?

Saturday, March 9, 10:30a | Garden of the Gods Club | 3320 Mesa Road
$45 per guest | Invite friends!
Buy Tickets Online Here!

The Artful Duo of French Pairing

Saturday, March 9, 12:30p | Fine Arts Center | 30 W. Dale Street
$85 per guest | Invite friends!
Buy Tickets Online Here!

Gourmet Winemaker Dinner & Live Auction

Saturday, March 9 | Garden of the Gods Club | 3320 Mesa Road
Dinner at 6:30p; Live auction at 8:30p; Dress: Cocktail Attire
$125 per guest | Invite friends!
Buy Tickets Online Here!

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