Learn wine vocabulary thanks to this primer specially designed by the Bordeaux Wine School.
A very common grape variety in Bordeaux. There are two versions, Cabernet Franc (mainly grown on the right bank of the Garonne, especially near Saint-Emilion or the Côtes de Bordeaux) and Cabernet Sauvignon (mainly planted on the left bank, in the Médoc and Graves regions).
Solid grape particles that form a thick layer on the surface of the tank during the fermentation process. The cap doesn't form immediately. The two phases separate after a few days
A vinification technique used mostly in the production of certain primeur wines. Macerating whole berries in an oxygen-free environment helps to release the aromas more easily. The fermentation of sugars begins when the grape enzymes begin their work. It normally continues when the yeasts begin to act and oxygen is provided.
An accident that occurs resulting in the loss of a wine's clarity, due to an excessive concentration of one element. It bears the name of the element that caused it, and denotes a deterioration in the colloidal condition of a wine. The outcome is precipitation and cloudiness in the wine. Example
Derived from the word 'caudal', meaning tail, this unit measures the duration of the aromatic persistence of a wine on the palate. One caudalie is equal to one second. A fine wine has a finish of 8 or more caudalies.
Adding sugar during the harvest, a process invented by Chaptal, and controlled by local regulations. It aims to achieve better balance in the wine by increasing its alcohol content when it is too low. Chaptalization is subject to legal specifications each year, depending on the vintage, but is usually prohibited in southern wine regions.
Used to describe the features of a wine. The character of a wine is related to its terroir, the grape varieties used to make it, or even its vinification process. Example
In Bordeaux, the word Château doesn't necessarily refer to a castle building, but actually is a name for a specific cru. For a given Bordeaux cru, whether classified or otherwise, the wine is the outcome of a very special interaction between climate, soil, planted grape varieties and of course, practices and traditions that stem from the winemaker's experience.
A term that applies to a wine that has both thickness and volume. It creates the impression that the wine can be chewed. The wine is described as being chewy.
Describes a wine with no immediate or apparent faults, either in terms of aroma or flavor. (Synonym of straightforward)
Cutting the tips of the vine branches in the summer to curb vegetative growth so that the grape berries will acquire good sugar, tannin and acid content. The grape's quality is enhanced.
A collection of vine stock that is genetically identical and derived from a single root, known as a parent strain.
Describes a wine that is not yet expressing its full range of aromatic qualities. Before it can express itself fully, this wine needs to be left to age. A closed up wine develops unusually weak aromas for its quality or its terroir. Occasionally, a wine goes through a phase when it is less expressive with regards to expectations of a specific vintage or quality; so it is described as being 'closed up'.
Describes a very astringent wine, which gives the impression of significant dryness in the mouth. A synonym of abrasive.
A white grape variety from South West France that grows in Bordeaux and is well known in Cognac. It produces wines that are lively, fruity and aromatic in their youth.
Describes a complex wine, at once in terms of its pronounced color, strength and the diversity of its aromas. The concentration of a wine is often the result of a long maceration process during fermentation. It is made possible when the grapes are fully ripe and have a high tannin concentration.
Named Bachique in reference to Bacchus, these gatherings of professionals and wine enthusiasts strive to promote the viticulture or oenology of an appellation or wine region. The members of these associations protect the folklore of their Medieval origins during inauguration ceremonies in the twenty or so guilds that are registered in Bordeaux.
A fungicide used to treat the vine, like the Bordeaux mixture with its typical blue color, a mix of copper sulphate and slaked lime, diluted in water. It is an effective solution against mildew, a fungal disease that occurs on the vine, caused by Plasmospora viticola.
The taste of cork is transferred to a wine by low quality corks or poor hygiene during bottling. It may occur even if the winemaker respects the most rigorous bottling processes.