Naming the Wine (June 26, 2003)
One of the major points of difference between New World and Old World wines
is that Europeans have traditionally named their wines after the region, village,
or commune where the grapes are grown (Chianti, Chablis, etc.).
There are exceptions Alsace, for instance, where they label their wines
after the grape variety.
New World wineries call their wines by the grape type and, if it's a blend,
will put the two or three varietal names on the label.
So successful have New World wineries been in marketing their products in Europe
that the French have begun to use varietal labeling. It started in the Languedoc-Roussillon
region and was allowed only for Vins de pays wines produced by large companies
like Fortant de France.
Then it crept in to the established region with wines such as Louis Latour
Chardonnay from the Rhône and even into Burgundy itself.
Now the prediction is that the number of varietally-labelled wines in France
will double over the next five years. The new category is called Vins de Cepages
de France. Indications of things to come: the French retailer Nicolas has introduced
into its UK stores a new varietal portfolio called Les Initiales eight
different varietal wines marketed by two letters, as though on a periodic table
of elements: Ch (Chardonnay), Cn (Chenin Blanc), Sa (Sauvignon Blanc), Cs (Cabernet
Sauvignon), Me (Merlot), Ga (Gamay), Pi (Pinot Noir) and Sy (Syrah).