The labels on the bottles of the French wine are usually loaded with information and for the untrained eye quite confusing.
Here is a short guide of how to read a Bordeaux wine bottle label
1 and 2 are obviously the country of origin and the vintage. The vintage represents the year the grapes were harvested. According to the current régulations the wine needs to be made, at least 85%, from grapes picked during the year indicated as the vintage. 3 represents the winery name: “Château Jacques Blanc” 4 is the classification. This wine is classified as a Grand Cru of Saint Emilion not to be confused with the Bordeaux Grand Crus that were established in 1855. Arguably the Grand Cru of Saint Emilion are less important then the Bordeaux ones. 5 represents the appellation – the guaranty that the grapes the wine is made from were grown and harvested in the respective geographical region, in our case the land covered by 9 towns that form the Saint Emilion Appellation.
Given the fact that Saint Emilion territory lies in the more inclusive region of Libourne vineyards, which in its turn is included in the Bordeaux wine region the label can use the indication of Bordeaux wine, 6, and because the wine in the bottle is the chateau’s premier wine it gets the distinction of “Grand Vin” to differentiate it form the estate’s second or third wines. 7Without being a quality indicator the fact that the wine was put in bottle at the winery – “mis en bouteille au château” – is a guaranty of its origin. The otherwise mention of “négociant” – dealer – means that the grapes or the wine was bought from another property. 8 names the actual farming society “SCEA=société civile d’exploitation agricole” that created the wine in this case Blanc Tourans that exploits the vineyard near the town of Saint Etienne de Lisse.
The label in the photo does not include the bottle’s capacity (in this case this was indicated on a different label on the other side of the bottle) which in fact is standardized since 1886. This was defined in Bordeaux to be 75cl and was calculated based on the requirements of the cargos of the ships used to export the wine to England.
At the time the ships’ capacity was measured in barrels. A Bordeaux barrel was containing 900 liters. Dividing 900 by 0.75 we get 1200 bottles that represent 100 cases of 12 bottles.
Hi, I am Carla. I am living and working in the beautiful city of Toulouse, France.
I like history, travel and... the southwest of France and try to share through this blog information about events that might be of interest to the travelers to this part of the world!