• I shortened the title this second time around in an effort to be less ostentatious, but then I used the word ostentatious which in itself is ostentatious. From here on out I promise not to use the aforementioned really long word. Scouts honor.

    Ostentatious

    Damn. Okay so I lied. I couldn’t help myself.

    I wrote so much last week about the rules, or general lack thereof, regarding wine making in California. This week its about how strict elsewhere is in comparison.

    Take France for example. They use a system called the Appellation d’ Origine Controlee or AOC for short. Literally translated is the appellation of origin control. This wine governing body tries to create a flavor profile for each region in France that is consistent with the country’s historical view of the wine that has been produced there for centuries.

    The way this is acheived is by many rules that restrict manipulation to the wine itself:

    Grape varietals: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Aligote and Chardonnay are the only grapes allowed to be made into wine in the area of Burgundy.

    A sub region in Burgundy called Beaujolais is where one would find the grape Gamay. When a red wine label says Bourgogne (Burgundy) on the label its going to be 100% Pinot Noir.

    There can only be a set amount of tonnage harvested annually to keep the market from being flooded, and more importantly to keep the quality of the grape consistent.

    The wine’s grapes have to be grown entirely in within the borders of  Burgundy. Unlike California where the wine (depending on the classification) can be as much as 25% from elsewhere.

    For me the most important part of the rules enforced in France is the testing and analysis. All AOC wines must go through  a chemical analysis. They must also have a similar taste profile to what is expected of the region. Wines that fail will be declassified. Bwah ha ha ha (goes the laugh of the evil French wine regulator who has asthma and reminds me of Darth Vader.)

    I recommend grabbing a couple different Burgundian wines and trying them fairly close together so that you can get an idea of how it’s supposed to taste. If it pleases you, you can be assured that any future Burgundies will be similar.

    The only region in France that almost always has the grape varietal listed on the label is Alsace. Largely the reason is because the area currently occupied by France has switched hands several times between France and Germany. As a result the wine practices are heavily German influenced. Germans put the name on the label.

    Et viola… in Alsace the varietal is listed.

    I am currently enjoying a Gewurztraminer from there.