How much information is locked-up in a label?

Mise en Bouteille means ‘put in bottle…(by)’. We usually have plenty of additional information too – au domaine – means that in this case it was bottled by the owners of the vines.
Variations on this theme could be:

  • “recolte, eleve et mise en bouteille au domaine” – harvested, matured and bottled by the owners of the vines
  • “vinife, eleve et mis en bouteille par Albert Bichot” – in this case no indication that Bichot are the owners (domaine or proprietor is not mentioned) of the vines or that they harvested them – indeed Bichot for these bottles acted as a negociant, but obviously did the grape sorting, fermenting and maturation of the wine
  • “mis en bouteille par Maison Clavelier” – here there is no indication of ownership or other activities – so Clavelier most likely bought a barrel of (finished) wine, and bottled it with their labels.

The lot number.
For traceability, since 1991 all bottles should show a lot number, but it can be placed either on the main label, a back label or a neck label if the bottle wears one.

Alcohol Content.
Usually expressed to the nearest half a degree e.g. 12.5% or 13.0%, though you will sometimes see other numbers – e.g. 12.6%

The name of the wine
As defined by its AOC, in this case, ‘Appellation Romanée Saint-Vivant Contrôlée’. Any wine that has it’s own AOC will insert that name between Appellation and Controlee e.g. Appellation Beaune 1er Cru Controlee.
Armand Rousseau’s Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos des Ruchottes is not an AOC in itself but is a long-established walled vineyard within the grand cru of Ruchottes-Chambertin, so this long-time prior use of the name is allowed on the label. Only for regional wines (Bourgognes) it is allowed to also show the name of the grape; e.g. Bourgogne Chardonnay

Producer’s name and address.
It is mandatory that this is on the label, though a postcode usually seems sufficient.

How much wine is in the bottle: Typical bottles measure 75 centilitres or 750 millilitres, but there are, of-course, half bottles, magnums etcetera

Country of Origin.
All bottles to be exported from France must show the country of origin on the label.

A somewhat rarer sight on a label. There are ~120 monopole vineyards in the Cote d’Or, that is to say vineyards with only one owner.

Sometimes on the label or sometimes just on a neck label. Interestingly there is no requirement to show a vintage on a bottle. The only stipulation is that IF a vintage is shown, then 100% of the contents of the bottle must come from that vintage.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There is one response to “11. The label…”

  1. Robert Dudley14th January 2013 at 2:51 amPermalinkReply

    Have the rules as to letter size on regional labels recently changed? The letters of the words “Cote Challonaise” used to be limited to one-half the size of those of “Bourgogne” in AOC Bourgogne Cote Challonaise, and it appears that may no longer be true.

    • billn17th January 2013 at 10:36 amPermalinkReply

      Dear Robert.
      I didn’t have a cogent answer for you, but I knew somebody in the BIVB who would, so here you go:

      The labeling rules have been changing for the “geographical appellations” in the specification book for the appellations Régionales.

      The most recent changes date from November 22, 2011. The former specification (2009) contained some disparities between geographical appellations: most of them had to be placed under the name Bourgogne, while the others had to be written right after it (Bourgogne Côte du Couchois, Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune, Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits).

      The 2011 changes are just made to have every appellations written the same. The size of the writing didn’t change between 2009 and now: the can be written the same size as Bourgogne but not more.

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