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acidity the liveliness and crispness noted in wine.

Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) is the French system for classifying the wines of a specific geographical area. Within that area only certain grape varieties (often in specified proportions) are permitted to qualify a wine for AOC certification; for example, 70% Malbec, 30% Merlot and/or Tannat in the case of AOC Cahors.

blend a wine made from more than one grape variety.

Bordeaux is a wine producing area in South West France based around the city of Bordeaux. The main grapes used in Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (red grapes) and Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon (white grapes) and some of its most famous names are Margaux, Saint-Estèphe, St-Emillion, Pomerol and Sauternes.

Burgundy is a wine producing area that includes a long, thin swathe of land stretching from north of Lyon to Dijon and takes in Chablis (considerably further north near Auxerre). The two main grape varieties used in Burgundy are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and among its most famous wines are Chablis, Meursault, Nuit-St-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin. 

Côte d’Or describes a ridge in the Burgundy wine region. Its southern tip lies near the part of the Dheune River that overlooks the Saône Valley and it stretches north through Santenay, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Beaune, Nuit-St-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin up to the outskirts of Dijon. The most prestigious wine producing area in Burgundy, it boasts some of the most celebrated and famous wines in the world.

DOC refers to a keystone in the Italian wine classification system. It stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata and wines that carry DOC on their label will have met certain criteria as stipulated by the Italian government. These criteria include geographical area, grape varieties, maximum yields and production methods.

DOCG refers to a keystone in the Italian wine classification system. It stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita and wines that carry DOCG on their label are recognised as Italy’s best. The list includes Barolo, Soave Superiore, Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti.

lees refers to the deposit left in a tank or barrel after fermentation.

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minerality is used to describe a range of taste sensations including words like ‘chalky’, ‘flinty’, ‘slatey’ and even ‘salty’. The term is a bit elusive; there isn’t agreement on what it means and experiencing ‘minerality’ is quite subjective. However, there seems to be some consensus that wines with higher acidity and lower fruit expression are more likely to be described as having a mineral quality and it is often applied to the great white wines of France such as Chablis and Sancerre.

noble grape refers to an internationally recognised grape variety so chosen because it is associated with top quality wines. There is some discussion as to how many varieties to include in the noble grape list, but names which always appear are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and/or Syrah. 

noble rot (botrytis) is a good mould that pierces the skin of grapes and causes dehydration, resulting in natural grape juice exceptionally high in sugar. Botrytis is largely responsible for the world's fines dessert wines.

Right Bank in Bordeaux refers to an area on the right bank of the river Dordogne. Perhaps its two best known names are Pomerol and St-Emillion. The wines here use a majority of Merlot in their blend and so distinguishing them from wines from other Bordeaux regions that focus on Cabernet Sauvignon.

tannins come from grape skins, pips and stalks and give you a sensation of dryness (a bit like sucking a teabag) around the cheeks and roof of the mouth. They are useful in helping preserve and age wine. Wines with this characteristic are described as tannic.

terroir is the French word used to describe all that relates to a vine’s growing environment, e.g. soil, climate, aspect, elevation and irrigation.