What’s an appellation?

By / Magazine / December 13th, 2017 / 8

It’s all about location, my friend. If you’re just a casual wine lover, odds are you drink the big picture. A French wine is just French and an Italian just Italian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There are gallons of good wines made in every country that has vines in the ground from a blend of grapes (sometimes the same variety and sometimes not) grown in various areas within its borders.

Over time (and that could be centuries), many regions within wine-producing countries have gained notoriety for their superior output and have been awarded special recognition. While these are referred to as “appellations” in France, many other countries use the term, with others translating it into their own language.

The rules and regulations that define the personality of the wines from each appellation are fiercely defended to protect the reputation of the area and what pours out of it. Though some appellations can be huge in size, the vast majority are smaller pieces of geography within a larger one that come together to make up the liquor landscape of a country. A good example is France’s Bordeaux. The region is its own appellation, yet within it are a number of others, including the prestigious landmasses of Margaux and Saint-Émilion.

So, if you’re a wine fan who likes the general style of a particular country, digging deeper into its unique appellations (or whatever they call them in the land you’re loving) will show your palate its nuances and how terroir makes a wine. Of course, it might also turn you off a country all together. Fingers crossed.



Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on Alliant.net to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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