French wine

 In general

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 Bordeaux.

Vieilles Vignes – old vines. Although unregulated, there can be a disctinct bearing of quality. A Chablis Vieillies Vignes for exemple, may have added concentration of flavour.


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 froa a single year, solg after at leat there years ageing.


Grand cru – classified vineyard site.

Sélection de grains nobles – wine.

Vendange Tardive – ‘late harvest’/specially grown ripe grapes.


Cru Bourgeois – classification of chateaux in the Médoc 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 system of the Graves, Sauternes, or St Emilion.

In Bordeaux, the name of the chateau, or property, is all improtant.


Domaine – estate or vineyard hoding, belonging to a grower or négociant.

Grand cru – top or finest vineyard sites.

Premier cru – second highest category of vineyard site.

In Burgundym the name of the grower of negociant is extremly important.


Sec – dry.

Demi-sec – medium to dry.

Molelleux – medium sweet to sweet.

Sur Lie – generally associated with Muscadet, sur lie indicates that the wine has been bottled directly from its lees, without being rached of filtered.

The Loire has a relatively cool climate, so take note of the vitange,


The best wines are often from a specified region, appellation or cru, i.e. Côte Rôtie. Côte du Rhône Villages carries a higher reputation than the general appellation.



Trochken – dry.

Halbtroken –semi-dry. In Germany, the grower and grape variety is worth nothing.

Verband Deutcher Pradikatsweinguter e. V (VDP) – group of estates whose members have agreed to a set of regulations.



Amarone – dry Passito wine from Valpolicella.

Classico – heartland of a DOC zone, generally producing better wines.

Passito – wine made from dried of semi-dried grapes.


Recioto – sweet passito wine.

Riserva – should be the best wines, from the better vintages, which are held back or aged for longer than normal.

Superior – wine whit higher alcohol than usual.