The secrets behind the labels

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Before you get to taste a wine, you have to choose it. And the first thing you come across is the label.

Here are some tips on how to read labels to help you make a decision.

The first thing you need to know is that each label includes statutory information and graphic messages designed to immerse you in the atmosphere of a wine estate, vineyard or the world of a particular winegrower and all that is promised by the wine.

Compulsory information: there are eight elements for wine in France.

 

Sales denomination

This requires the exact category of the wine to be stated. So for Beaujolais wines you'll find AOC, Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée and AOP, Appellation d'Origine Protégée (European regulations).

 

Alcohol content of the wine 

(Officially "alcohol by volume”, ABV). This is usually shown as a percentage, for example "13% vol.".

 

Origin 

This shows the country in which the wine was produced. On Beaujolais labels, you'll see “produit de France” (produced in France).

 

Volume of bottle

750 ml for most bottles of Beaujolais wine.

 

Name of bottler

This is the name of the natural or legal person or group of persons that has bottled the wine. There are some subtle differences.

Mis en bouteille au château" means that the wine is bottled on the producer’s estate or property.

"Mis en bouteille à la propriété” means that the wine is bottled on the premises of a group of producers.

"Mis en bouteille dans la zone de production” means that the wine is bottled by a company located in the same geographic area as the AOC.

 

Batch number

In France this is often preceded by the letter "L".

 

Allergens

The presence of sulphites must be stated. You'll sometimes see “contains sulphites" or "contains sulphur dioxide".

 

Health warning

Alcoholic drinks sold in France must carry a warning advising pregnant women not to consume alcohol.

 

Other than these obligatory statements, other optional but strictly controlled information can help you make your choice.

The year on the bottle indicates the vintage, in other words the year that the grapes were harvested.

More on beaujolais.com : "The great years for Beaujolais wine: deciphering vintages"  article

The variety

Sometimes "Gamay" or “Chardonnay" appears on the label. These are the two varieties grown in the Beaujolais region.

 

The word "Beaujolais" is not compulsory for the cru wines as the name of the AOC takes precedence. So you're more likely to see "Fleurie ", "Juliénas " or "Côte de Brouilly", for example, than “Beaujolais cru".

 

More information on wine labelling can be found on the DGCCRF website.

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