Content Dictionary

1855 classification

In 1855, Napoleon III, hosted a Universal Exposition in Paris, where he wanted to showcase France’s best wines. As part of that effort, Bordeaux's Chamber of Commerce exhibited a list that included 58 châteaus (now 61): four first-growths, 12 seconds, 14 thirds, 11 fourths and 17 fifths (Mouton Rothschild was eventually included as a First Growth in 1973). While the classification still has some relevance, and the First Growth members remain among some of the best wines in Bordeaux, changes in ownership, politics, and resultant quality make it largely a historical distinction. 


A barrique is a 225 liter oak barrel. While it originated in Bordeaux, it is ubiquitous in most wine growing regions today. Depending on the style of wine and degree of ‘oakiness’ desired, some winemakers use partial barrique, a combination of used and new oak, or forgo their use altogether. The relatively smaller size of a barrel (more surface contact with wine) means they can have a large effect on the resultant style of wine. 


Biodiversity refers to the ecological of a vineyard which is dependent on a broad ecosystem of plants, birds and insects-- a network of biological diversity. The healthy biology, or biodiversity of soil is the key to a stable wine-growing ecosystem, quality terroir, and the health of a vine. Increasingly, winemakers prioritize sustainable farming, use of cover crops, and avoid use of pesticides or herbicides in favor of increased biodiversity, natural equilibrium and thus better quality grapes, wines, and overall health. 


Biodynamic viticulture may seem like a modern buzzword, but in actuality, the practice dates back to 1920. Essentially, biodynamics goes beyond natural and organic practices with the goal of creating equilibrium between vine, man, earth and stars where viticultural practices from planting, pruning, to harvesting, are dictated by a lunar calendar. 

botrytis / noble rot

Noble Rot, or Botrytis Cinerea, is a type of fungus that causes grape skins to become permeable, causing grapes to dehydrate and shrivel, increasing the sugar/water ratio. Dessert wines made from grapes with Noble Rot are viscous, sweet, but still with good acidity and often are characterised by beeswax and honey aromas. 


Botte is the Italian for barrel. They are much larger than barrique ranging from 10, 200 or 300 hectoliters and generally made from either Slavonian oak or Chestnut. They are used for several years and because there is less surface to wine contact they have much less oak influence on resultant wines.

Cold Soak

Cold Soak is a technique used by winemakers. Prior to fermentation, the juice, grapes, sometimes including whole clusters are kept at cool temperatures to stall fermentation in order to extract color and flavor without extracting too much tannin. 

Cover Crop

Cover crops are wild plants or selected crops or grass that exist in between vines. They help avoid erosion, aerate the soils, create nitrogen, moderate vine growth, and support biodiversity and health of the vineyards mitigating the need to use herbicides. 

Diurnal Range

Diurnal range is the difference, or delta between the hottest day and the coldest night temperatures in the vineyard, A wide diurnal range can slow ripening, extend the maturation, and balance sugars and acids in the grapes. Warmer daytime temperatures help to foster sugar development, while cool nights help to preserve aromas, freshness and acidity.

Domaine Bottling

A domaine-bottled wine is grown and bottled by the vine-grower/winemaker. That may seem pretty obvious, but it was not until the late-20th-century that domaine bottling in France was a common practice. Much of the grape growing was done by peasant farmers, who sold their grapes to negociants, but demand for domaine-bottled burgundy changed that dynamic where consumers focused more not only on just the vineyard, but also the individual grower.

Dry Farming

Dry Farming means the vines are not irrigated. This practice not only saves water, but many people suggest it makes vines strain, grow deeper roots, and yield more intensely flavored grapes. 


Fining is a process used to clarify and stabilize wine by adding a substance to the wine that binds with unwanted particles in the wine that might cause a wine to look hazy or affect its aroma, or flavors causing them to drop out. That said, some winemakers shun this process, believing that this process deprives them of natural flavor and texture. 

Foudre / Fuder

A Foudre is a large wooden vat used in Germany that can hold 300 hectoliters or more. They are used for several years. Because of their age, and because there is less surface to wine ratio, Foudres impart little overt oak influence on resultant wines. 

Gravity Flow

Rather than using pumps, a gravity flow winery uses, you guessed it, gravity. Grapes arrive from harvest at the top level floor of a multi-level structure, traveling downward by gravity, from crush, fermentation, aging, and, eventually, bottling. Obviously, this requires some design forthought or even on a hillside to help facilitate this process, but significant investments like this are made because limiting disruption to the wine as much as possible is believed to increase the quality of the resultant wine. 

Green Harvest

Green harvesting is a process done by hand where extra grape bunches are removed from the vine during the ripening period in order to balance leaf growth with grape bunches. The lesser yields mean the remaining bunches achieve better ripeness and more concentrated flavor. 

Grower Producer

Grower Producer Champagne is grown and produced by the same family, which is less common than the growers who sell to the larger Champagne houses. While these may not be as well known, many Grower Producer Champagnes are some of the best quality available and that reflect their distinct vineyards, terroir, and their personal style.


A Hectare is metric unit of square measure that is equivalent to 2.47105 acres

Henri jayer

A modest and assuming man, Henri Jayer was considered one of the most revered winemakers in the history of Burgundy. Before his passing in 2006, and during the height of his fame in the 1980’s, there was no wine more coveted in the world because of both the miniscule qualities of production and the fantastic quality.


Jayer’s success with Pinot Noir and Burgundy affected the practices of the next generation of winemakers. Jayer opposed over-use of herbicides and pesticides. His grapes came from notoriously low yielding vines, which he felt was the only recipe for great wines. He did not filter his wines, always destemmed grapes, and introduced the practice of cold soaking in order to extract more complex aromas, and color without extracting harsh tannins.

High Density Planting

High density planting is a practice of planting more vines close together per acre with the theory that the vines compete against each other, causing roots to grow deeper, limiting yields, and causing more intensely flavored grapes. 

Lees Contact

Lees are leftover yeast deposits from secondary fermentation. Wines that undergo lees contact, otherwise referred to as ‘sur lie’, take on complex textures and flavors in white wines and sparkling wines, with a distinct ‘yeasty’ mineral character. 

Low Yielding Vines

Low yielding vines should not be confused by low yields generally which can be achieved through pruning, green harvest, and other viticultural practices. Low yielding vines are older vines that naturally have lower yields because of their age, producing less grapes, but with more concentrated flavor. 

Lutte Raisonnée

Lutte raisonnée, means “reasoned fight” in French, is an effort to only use chemicals in the vineyard unless absolutely necessary. Instead, planting of cover crops, rigorous plowing of the soils, and the use of manures and natural composts are encouraged to create biodiversity. Some vine growers use this as a first step towards organic farming, while others see this approach as a more pragmatic approach to encouraging more natural winemaking.

Extended Maceration

Extended Maceration is a type of extended contact of wine to grape skins. While a Cold Soak involves extended exposure of juice to skins before fermentation, it is also sometimes done after fermentation, and is then referred to as an Extended Maceration. It can add richness, and texture including finer tannins increasing ageability. 

Malolactic Fermentation

Malolactic fermentation is the process of malic acid converting to the more mellow lactic acid and releasing carbon dioxide as a byproduct. This process which often occurs in barrels not only reduces acidity and creates a more creamy full bodied soft texture to the wine sometimes with buttery and toast-like flavors in Chardonnay. 


Microclimates are a measure of climate, specifically small areas, like an individual row of vines or sections of a vineyard characterized by elevation changes, proximity to water, or weather patterns like fog lines. A microclimate can significantly impact grapes, their ripening period, and their resultant style of the wine. 

Minimal Intervention

Minimal intervention is essentially what it sounds like: turning grapes into wine with as little interference from the winemaker as possible. On a basic level, the winemaker does not innoculate or initiate fermentation, rather the wild (or indigenous) yeast on the skin of grapes converts the sugar inside the fruit to alcohol and does not add anything, or artificially alter the natural process. 

Native / Natural Yeast

A native or wild yeast (or spontaneous) fermentation relies on native yeasts that are found on the fruit and in the vineyard rather than using cultured yeasts which are more reliable, but also create more uniformative wines. Each vineyard, grape varietal, even vintage has its own microbial make-up meaning each vineyard’s natural yeasts will impart their own character. Wines made from natural yeasts are often more complex and better show a site’s unique terroir.

Old Vines

Old Vines are characterized by vines that are older than 25 years old, but often they can extend well beyond 50 years old. The vines' roots run deep, produce less fruit, and yield grapes more concentrated in flavor. 


Organic wines are made from organically grown grapes without use of chemicals like herbicides or pesticides. The rules for certification vary depending on the locale. However, the general idea is that the wines are naturally made without synthetic practices in the vineyard or winery. 


Oxidation generally means exposure to oxygen which is a necessity of both winemaking and wine ageing, but in micro amounts. Oxidation, or oxidized wines, can also be a stylistic choice in some natural wines, and dessert wines, but generally it is seen as pejorative where a wines has aged prematurely or was stored incorrectly and takes on a matterized quality where the fruit is subdued and the wine takes on nutty, sherry-like aromas and flavors. 

Phenolic Ripeness

Grape ripeness is often technically determined by the sugar level in grapes, which dictates the resulting alcohol levels. However, phenolic ripeness has to do with flavor ripeness. The phenols in wine include the tannins in the skins of the grape that when unripe impart green bitter flavors, but when they mature, the tannins become softer, riper tasting, and less angular.


Phylloxera is a parasitic insect that eats the roots of grapes that was responsible for almost destroying every single wine grape in the world during the 1800-1900’s. Wineries in Europe were forced to rip up and burn their vineyards until over 70% of the vines in France were dead. Researchers, including a Frenchman, Jules Émile Planchon, and an American, Charles V. Riley, found the solution. By grafting European grapevines onto phylloxera resistant American root stock, they were able to save wine trade world wide. 

Pump Over

A pump over is the process of taking grape juice or must from the bottom of a tank and pumping it over the cap which is made of grape skins that have been pushed to the top by the violence of the chemical reaction during fermentation. This method keeps skin and juice contact which is needed to extract color, aromas, flavor, and tannins when making red wine while also reducing the risk of bacterial growth in the cap as it dries out. 

Punch Down

A Punch Down is the process of submerging the cap which is made of grape skins that have been pushed to the top by the violence of the chemical reaction during fermentation. This can be done manually (you better eat your wheaties beforehand) or mechanically. Some winemakers prefer this method over pump overs because it is arguably more gentle and allows winemakers more control, but like pump overs, this process extracts color, aromas, flavor, and tannins when making red wine while also reducing the risk of bacterial growth in the cap as it dries out. 


Riddling or ‘remuage’ is a process used in Champagne where the Champagne bottles are aged in cellars on the yeasts from the secondary fermentation. This is a labor intensive process, which imparts a distinct style and complexity that has defined Champagne. Champagne bottles are manually rotated right and left in various degrees where the angle of the bottle is meanwhile gradually altered so the bottleneck is at an increasing downward angle. The effect is to combine the yeast particles in suspension with the heavier sediment, which descends by stages towards the neck before it is removed. 


Wine bottles in the U.S. are required to include on the label “contains sulfites” if any sulfites have been added. Winemakers add sulfites to stabilize and protect wines. However, naturally occurring sulfites are a byproduct of fermentation so every wine really has them to some degree. Then, the question becomes what about added sulfites Is the increased amount bad for you? This has surfaced as an issue because processed foods, like deli meats or French fries have high amounts of sulfites, but wine has a tiny fraction in comparison. Also, a lot of foods have naturally occurring sulfites so sensitivity to sulfites is unlikely to be wine specific. Sulfites do not cause headaches as some attribute, but high amounts of sulfites can affect some asthmatics which would require an overall dietary examination. 


Terroir is the combination of soil, climate, and terrain to affect the character of a wine. It is important to note how the vineyard is farmed, whether it is organic, can have a significant effect on the transparency of the terroir. Chemical treatments can have a deleterious effect on the biodiversity and health of soil, vines, and thus grapes. Subtle changes in elevation, wind patterns, soil make-up, exposure to sun, can make two wines made exactly the same way from the same grape varieties from two adjoining vineyards taste very different. It is a beautiful thing. 


Filtering wines involved removing solids, principally yeasts in order to stabilize the wines, especially in wines with residual sugar. Many winemakers forgo this process, because they think it takes away from the overall complexity of the aromas and flavors in a wine and instead choose to stabilize wines by racking, or ageing wines in tanks or barrels, allowing solids to fall out before moving wines to new barrels. Any solids that remain are part of the character of the wine. 

Whole Cluster Fermentation

Whole Cluster Fermentation is when the entire grape cluster is crushed and fermented with its stems. Generally, grapes go through a crusher/destemmer where individual grape berries are separated from the stems and discarded before crushing and fermentation. This is not a binary choice. Often, if the stems are ripe, winemakers may include some whole clusters to add tannin and flavor complexity. However, if the stems are not ripe they can impart angular, bitter tannins to the texture as well as green flavors.