Why don't the French say which grape varieties they are using?
I was often puzzled as to what I was buying with french wines.
The rest of the world's wine producers are explicit and state the grape variety
on the bottle.
Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and so on all sound very
French, so why I wondered don't the french themselves put them on their wine
The answer came from a gallic aquaintence called patrick who gave me a new
word to add to my french vocab. The word is terroir.
After such a long history of wine production, many localities fought long
and hard for their reputation as wine producers. In the days before international
jet setting, Where a wine came from was the definition of whether it was good
Local producers claimed (with justification) that the combination of the
grape, soil, climate slope and expert knowledge of the local producers were
the ingredients of a fine wine. These elements were collectively called the
So the French wines name their region on their wine bottles. Some regions
stick to single grape varieties while others mix grapes. For example, white
wines from Chablis all use the Chardonnay grape, and it then becomes the soil
with its unique combination of clay and chalk plus the ammount of sunlight
in different parts of the valley that seperate a cheap Petit Chablis from
a massively expensive bottle of Chablis Grand Cru.
The bordeaux wines are famous for their
amazing reds. Burgundy too is famous for its rich clarets.