France is famous for its wines and food. Other countries in Europe do have a great range of wines to offer (Spain, Italy) but the fact is France comes out first for many reasons. Basically speaking France has become famous for certain types of wines and all other lesser-known wines benefit from that fame.
Alike a comet with a brillant head and a long queue, the light of which will fade away, wines in France support a similar comparison. The head is made of the various and most prestigious Bordeaux classics, Burgundy wines too and in the trail you can find a multitude of wines.
Wines are classified by “Appellations”. An Appellation ( and you can read ” Appellation contrôlée” on the label / “Controlled Appellation”) is a limited area, a certain region which, for many reasons (soil, sun exposure etc..) define the wines from this area as having quite the same qualities. For example, the Saint-Emilion area is an appellation controlled district. “Controlled” means defined as such by the Ministry of Agriculture, Paris. Any wines produced out of this Saint-Emilion area may be classified under the appellation to which they belong.
For example, the City of Saint-Emilion is surrounded by “Communes” [Counties] each bearing the name of its main village: Montagne Saint-Emilion / Saint-Georges Saint-Emilion / Puisseguin Saint-Emilion and Lussac Saint-Emilion may claim having similar soils as that of Saint-Emilion proper but, for many official reasons, they have been classified differently. Each of them bears an appellation derived from their main village. And each of them, alike other wines from other parts of France, try to do well either on the domestic market or on the export side.
It si quite interesting to open a book about the french wines to understand how such classifications were made. I am not sure however that body-labels could not be made in a simpler way so that overseas consumers could understand what it is all about. This issue seems to be becoming a major problem for it has been made clear that other countries have simpler regulations, hence consumers not knowing specifically what the Bordeaux wines are, are turning to other labels from the “New World”.
Struggling in the tunnels of understanding what so many controlled appellations mean, there are these numerous little Estates trying to sell their harvest and make their way onto remote markets.
Once things are getting clearer in mind about wine-makers selling their wines with or without difficulties (whether they are famous brands or lesser-known wines), the question that comes to mind is how is the trade organized ? As wine-makers are supposed to make good wines, do they have enough time to explore marketing issues ? Certainly not, be it because they do not speak foreign languages or are not conversant with terms of payment and paperwork on the export side.
As a result, the trade is organised between wine-brokers and wine merchants. This could be an idea for a further article.