The Wine Buyer created this alphabetical list of wine "names" along with
color, place and grape to help you decipher what's in a wine! In the US, most
wines are labeled with what grapes are used to make the wine (there are some
notable exceptions!). However, in other parts of the world, especially in
Europe, many wines are named for their location, appellation, village, etc. In
some cases, we've listed both reds and whites for a "name" if there are good
wines made from another varietal. We also indicate if the wine is sweet if
that's what the area/name is known for. Note that for Bordeaux, France we've
listed the appellation/village names for most of the important ones but not
the individual chateau. And in Burgundy it is possible that you won't find the
village on the label if it's a Grand Cru wine. However, most of the Grand Cru
have the name (or part of the name) of the village incorporated in their name,
like the Grand Cru Charmes-Chambertin from Gevery-Chambertin. This can get
complex! If you have another wine name you know about and would like to add to
this list or have a question about another one, please let us know! We will be
adding a new wine name to this list every week from our newsletter.
Although sparkling wines abound throughout the world, true Champagne only comes from Frances' northernmost wine growing area, the Champagne region. Champagne is made from the red grape varietals Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and the white varietal Chardonnay. The cool climate there doesn't allow full ripening of the grapes which means high acidity and less developed flavors which is perfect for making sparkling wines!
A village in the southern part of the Cote De Beaune in France's Burgundy region. Best know for it's Chardonnay or White Burgundy wines, there are actually more acres planted to Pinot Noir of the total 1,100 acres of vineyards. Some consider the grand cru vineyards' white wines the best in the world. There are three grand cru and 13 premier cru vineyards which produce consistently high quality white burgundy. Prices can be more reasonable than from the neighboring town of Puligny-Montrachet which has more notoriety.
This is an area in the southern Rhone valley of France which surrounds the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 97% of the wine made here is red but white grapes are used in blending these wines. 13 different red and white varietals are permitted to be used in the blends with the red Grenache being the primary grape. The other reds are: Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvèdre, Muscardine, Syrah, Terret Noir and Vaccarèse. The whites are: Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, Roussanne and Piquepoul. These wines are generally big, spicy and rich and capable of aging for 5 to 20 years.
This dry red wine is made from the Sangiovese grape. The Chianti appellation and it's seven smaller sub-regions are located in the Tuscany area of central Italy. Chianti Classico is the only sub-region that can have the famous black rooster on the label and is generally considered to have the highest quality wines in Chianti. The other six sub-regions are Chianti Aretini, Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Colline Pisane, Chianti Montalbano, and Chianti Rufina.
This village is located in the Touraine area of France's Loire Valley. The area produces mainly red wine made from the Cabernet Franc grape with some Cabernet Sauvignon. If you see a rosé or white wine with the Chinon village on the label, it's probably made from the Chenin Blanc grape.
Just to the South of the famous appellation of Hermitage lies the appellation of Cornas. These are both located in the Northern Rhone of France. The only grape used in red winemaking here is Syrah. This area is developing more of a cult following because of the intense wines being made here. They are often very dark in color and intense in flavor and tannin, many times requiring cellaring to fully enjoy them.
This French appelation is one of the oldest in the Northern Rhone. The name means "roasted slope" and refers to the hillside sunbaked vineyards which are so steep that they must be manually tended. You may also see on the label Cote Blonde and Cote Brune which refer to the lighter and darker soils of the best sections of this area that is only 300 total acres. Only red wine is produced and it is mostly Syrah with a little of the white grape Viognier in the blend.
Coteaux du Languedoc
French appellation created in 1985 that encompasses a wide area of Southern France and contains over 120 villages. Only 12 of them have achieved Cru status and can attach their names to the labels including Cabrieres, la Clape, Montpeyroux, Picpoul de Pinet, Pic Saint-Loup, Saint-Drezery, Saint-Georges-d'Orques, and Saint-Saturnin. Only red and rose wines qualify and must be composed of Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre and/or Syrah.