Alba Vineyard Consulting - Wine Casks
Alba Vineyard Consulting - Wine Resources

Amarone

Born in northeastern Italy's Valpolicella DOC, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is a robust red wine created by drying grapes (usually a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara) on straw mats for several months. In Italian, amaro means "bitter," and Amarone does have bitterness. However, it also has a sweet edge; a by-product of the concentrated sugars left from the drying process. This contradiction results in an aromatic tasting experience initially of a sweet wine, changing to bitter-sweet chocolate, cherries, plums and meat stock. It concludes with a dry finish - a truly unique experience!

Appellation Contrôlée /
Appelation d'Origine Contrôlée

Quality designation that guarantees origin, grape varieties, and production methods for what are, theoretically, the best of French wines.

Caves Coopératives

Vineyards and wineries owned jointly by a number of members. More than half of all French vineyards are currently collectively owned, but numbers are slowly declining.

Climat

See Terroir

Cru Classé

The best wines of the Médoc district of Bordeaux are split into five crus, from premier cru classé (best) to cinquième cru classé, with an additional sixth, cru Bourgeois.

Cuvée

Wines composed of a blend of grape varieties.

Dégorgement

See Disgorgement

Disgorgement

Following Remuage, this is the final stage in the Méthode Champenoise of sparkling wine production, the removal, by freezing, of yeast deposits.

Grand Cru

Literally "Great Growth" this classification is awarded to the finest vineyards and to the wines they produce. The term has different meanings in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and Alsace.

Grand Vin

The best wine of an estate, as opposed to the "second vin."

Lees

Lees, literally "mud," is the old English word for the residue/sediment that has settled on the bottom of the fermentation vat. The wine Lees are made primarily up of dead yeast cells, skin fragments, stems, seeds, pulp and tartrates that accumulate during the aging of the wine.

Lees play an important part in the maturation process. Clear, everyday wines are separated from the Lees as soon as possible, whereas some reds and whites are purposely left with the Lees in order to gain a greater depth of flavor. When all the good wine has been taken from the fermentation vessel, the Lees are only valuable for their acid tartrate and alcohol content. After the separation of the tartrates and alcohol, the Lees are tipped back onto the soil in the Vineyard in order to add nitrogen.

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Méthode Champenoise

A method used to make all high-quality sparkling wines. Developed and required in the Champagne region of France, it is also used by many high-quality producers around the world. Méthode Champenoise involves, among other things, a second fermentation in the bottle.

Phylloxera

Yellow aphid that has periodically devastated French vines, killing them by feeding on their roots.

Premier Cru

Quality indicator, applied in Burgundy to wines classified just below grand cru, and used in various ways in Bordeaux and elsewhere.

Remuage

See Riddling

Riddling

Part of the Méthode Champenoise, riddling (Remuage) is the shaking process by which dead yeasts are moved to the neck of the bottle after the second fermentation.

Tannin

Tannin is the substance that can be found occurring naturally in the stem, seeds and skins of grapes. Tannin in wine is also influenced by the wood in which it was aged. Tannins act as natural preservatives and are key components in the ageing process. Often winemakers will add Tannin in order to allow the wine to sustain its quality for a longer period of time. Some wines (particularly red wines) have high levels of Tannins and wine makers use methods such as Fining with gelatin, albumin or casein to reduce these Tannins.

Tannins cannot be smelled, only tasted. One tastes Tannins through the bitterness in the wine, and the drying sensation in the cheeks. Tannins in the right amount are essential for the balance of the wine, and if out of balance the wine will taste too sweet or too bitter.

Different types of woods, grapes and wine making varieties also affect the taste of wine and the amount of Tannin in the wine. For instance high Tannin wines come from high Tannin grapes such as Tannat and Syrah. The most common new wood used in barrel maturation is Oak, and lends a unique flavor depending upon its variety and how it was seasoned.

Terroir

Specific vineyard site, defined by its climatological and geographical characteristics.

Vin de Pays

One step above vin de table quality classification and one below VDQS. These are mostly simple country wines with a regional character. There are 150 including Vin de Pays d'Oc, Côtes de Gascogne, Bouches-du-Rhône, and Coteaux de l'Ardèche.

Vin de Table

Quality classification applied to the lowest level of French wines.

Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieur (VDQS)

Quality classification for wines better than vin de pays, but not as good as those of appellation contrôlée status.