Week 2/8 wine tasting: Bordeaux and South of France

Our second week of wine tasting stayed in the France region but looked at the Bordeaux and South of France region. Here are our key takeaways include; classification systems, blending and regional differences.

First, we start with quality.

Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AC)

At the very top of this pyramid is the ACs which you can expect to see on your quality wine bottles. An appellation suggests a specific geographical region that has its own laws for wine making. This can be a large region or much smaller village region (the latter getting the more ££).

Vin de Pays

The Vin de Pays is good quality but a rung down from AC. Here there are some laws on geographical regions, grape variety etc but much less stringent than AC laws.  and grape varietal, along with a maximum yield of grape tonnage per unit area. The label will say Vin de Pays along with the region itself and worth noting that although often the bottle has the dominant grape name, they can be blends – with only the dominant grape being named.

Vin de Table

At the bottom of the rung is Vins de Table, which makes up about 30% of production. The only restriction is that the grapes must be sourced from and the wine made in France, and added sugar to increase alcohol is forbidden. The region, grape and vintage will not be on the wine – often not exported.

Bordeaux key facts:

  • Largest AC region in France
  • 90% of red wine production
  • Strong British connection- Claret & Chateaux
  • Home of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Semillion
  • Famous for age-worthy wines and sweet wines

Key wines of Southern Rhone

  • The ‘Crus’ of Southern Rhone; Vacquueryas, Gigondas, Lirac, Tavel, Chateauneuf du Pape
  • Cotes du Rhone Villages; 70 communes with or without a village
  • Generic’ Cotes du Rhone; can come from anywhere in the Rhone valley
  • CDR Satellites; Coteaux du Tricastin, Cotes du Ventoux, Luberon

Key grape varieties of S. Rhone

  • Grenache
  • Syrah
  • Mourvedre
  • Cinsault, Carigan

Rhone is all about the blending


  • Boosts levels of colour, tannin and acidity
  • Adds dark fruit characteristics


  • Adds alcohol to Syrah
  • Lowers tannin and acidity
  • Adds red colour, character and spice

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