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I enjoyed Phil Dange’s explanation in the Feb/March edition of why it isn’t necessary to include details of the type of grape on the label of a bottle of wine. For those who missed it, according to Phil, it’s because a wine is the product of so many things – what the French call ‘terroir’ – that it’s not just unnecessary but wrong to emphasis the type of grape and not describe the other things that make the wine from one area unique.
He is right, but only in part. This approach works for wines from areas that are ‘Appellation Contrôlée’. For instance white wines from Chablis and Puligny Montrachet are as different as it is possible to be. Both are made from the Chardonnay grape but the name of the wine, not the grape, is the best guide to how they taste. However, his approach does not work for the pioneering areas where wine makers are not bound by the same regulations as under the AC rules. Take the ‘Vin de Pays des Coteaux du Libron’ for instance, in the Languedoc, where the Domaine la Colombette make a fruity Sauvignon in the New Zealand style and a Chardonnay as buttery as a Montrachet. I can’t think of a better way to label those wines than after the grape variety whose character is revealed by the way the wines are made. To call both wines just “Coteaux du Libron” wouldn’t help the buyer at all.
So don’t be too disdainful, Phil, about us Anglo-Saxons who love and understand wines from the lesser known parts of France.
Andrew Polmear, Brighton and Bédarieux