Archive for May, 2010

As disgusted in How to Pick French Wine Part 1 French wines are heavily regulated and have their own way of classifying each vineyard and wine. There classifications would not be so hard to understand if France used one classification standard , but they don’t.  The good news is that there is an endless amount of books and websites about French wines. The bad thing is that most of the books and websites have so much unimportant information for an everyday wine drinker that we close the book before getting the answers. So what I have done is removed all the unimportant  information and just broke down the sub-regions classification.

The first Sub-Region we will go over is Alsace. Alsace is somewhat an uncommon region to see on a wine list, I say that because Alsace is predominantly a white grape region.  Grapes that are known to grow in Alsace are Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blac, Pinot Gris, and Muscat, and a little Chardonnay. The only red grape that is planted is Pinot Noir.

5 Different classifications you may see on Alsace wine label

  • Vins de Table
  • Vin de Pays
  • Reserve
  • Grand Cru
  • Late Harvest

You will rarely see  Vins de Table & Vin de Pays since they are considered lesser quality wines and generally not sold in the US.

Reserve- can be labeled with just the vineyard name or have the vineyard name plus Grand Cru (we will go over what Grand Cru means i just a second). Also you may see labels with recerve personelle or reserve excetionnelle, but neither of these have legal definitions and should not be considered when picking a wine.

Grand Cru- is the highest level of classification of AOC wines from Alsace.   A wine bottle that is labeled with Grand Cru is supposed to be the best from the best vineyards and wine makers. … a side note – there are a few vineyards that refuse to take the Grand Cru classification even though the have been awarded the classification because they are not happy with how judging is process so it is important to try all classifications.

Late Harvest – is usually the most expensive of the 5 classifications. Producers may label with Vendange Tardive or Selection de Grains Nobles.  Late harvest is usually an indication of a sweet dessert wine.



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2008 Zafrika Pinotage, South Africa

2008 Zafrika Pinotage, South Africa

  • Color- Ruby red
  • Nose- Plum, red berries, banana, earthy
  • Body- light/medium
  • Taste- light tannins, dry, plum, oak, ripe red berries

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