cuvee and meritage?

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cuvee and meritage?

Postby Maria Samms » Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:23 pm

What's the difference between these two terms?

I know I ask a lot of questions...thank you all for being so patient and for answering them so fully! I am learning so much from everyone here!
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Ryan D » Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:38 pm

A cuvee is a term referring to a producer's blend of wine [it is often numbered].

A Meritage is a blend done specifically in the Bourdeaux style.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Gary Barlettano » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:26 pm

Maria, follow this link to learn a little more about "meritage:" The Meritage Association.

Note that officially the word rhymes with "heritage." It is a word fabrication combining "merit" with "heritage." (I think the folks in the custom blind industry contributed to the concept.) Anyway, now you may politely raise your eyebrows and shake your head condescendingly when you hear it pronounced "mare-ee-tahzh."

More on cuvée here,although, if I'm not mistaken, it is a wine-barrel-shaped vehicle and the French response to the Humvee.
Last edited by Gary Barlettano on Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Victorwine » Mon Jan 15, 2007 9:07 pm

Besides these two terms, there is the French term ‘assemblage’ which refers to the act of blending or creating a cuvee or “Meritage” wine.

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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby ClarkDGigHbr » Tue Jan 16, 2007 1:29 am

I recall reading 5-6 years ago that the label Meritage could only be applied to the top 1-2 most expensive wines produced by a participating winery. I quickly looked at the material on The Meritage Association web site this evening and did not see that restriction anymore. I believe it was originally intended to convey the fact that the Meritage label brought with it a certain badge of quality. Now it just means Bordeaux-style blend ... and the winery paid its annual dues. What's the point?

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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:23 am

Good catch, Clarke. I haven't looked at the "Meritage" name for a few years, but there seems to be a significant dilution of the brand. I sent the following email to the trade association tonight to see what the current qualifications are:

Your website seems to indicate that the only qualifications for the "Meritage" label are blends of wines -- no restriction on number of cases, no requirement of the "best" or "second best" release.

What are the current rules for the producers?


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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:54 am

ClarkDGigHbr wrote: Now it just means Bordeaux-style blend ... What's the point?



That is the point.

It is a useful descriptor for a Bordeaux blend that doesn't use the word Bordeaux, which is a term that can't be used in the EU except on Bordeaux wines. And possibly in the USA at some time in the future.

And anyway, what self respecting winemaker wants to refer to another wine region on his bottles and make his wine sound like a 'me-too'?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Tue Jan 16, 2007 1:40 pm

Peter May wrote:
ClarkDGigHbr wrote: Now it just means Bordeaux-style blend ... What's the point?



That is the point.

It is a useful descriptor for a Bordeaux blend that doesn't use the word Bordeaux, which is a term that can't be used in the EU except on Bordeaux wines. And possibly in the USA at some time in the future.

And anyway, what self respecting winemaker wants to refer to another wine region on his bottles and make his wine sound like a 'me-too'?


They could name it metooage!
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Gary Barlettano » Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:02 pm

Peter May wrote:
ClarkDGigHbr wrote: Now it just means Bordeaux-style blend ... What's the point?


That is the point.

It is a useful descriptor for a Bordeaux blend that doesn't use the word Bordeaux, which is a term that can't be used in the EU except on Bordeaux wines. And possibly in the USA at some time in the future.

And anyway, what self respecting winemaker wants to refer to another wine region on his bottles and make his wine sound like a 'me-too'?


Sometimes the protection of one's trademark or brand forces others to scratch the left side one of one's nose with with the right middle finger by reaching around the back of one's head. Be that as it may be ...

Since they can't use "Bordeaux" or "Bordeaux style" on the label, the concocting of a brand such as "Meritage" makes perfect sense because it tells me to an extent what is in the bottle and what is trying to be achieved. And this works as long as there are rules which emulate the model from which one cannot deviate.

It is, however, asinine that one cannot simply put in small letters on the front of the bottle that something is made in the style of Bordeaux or Champagne or Chianti or Cheddar or Brie or whatever. It doesn't say that the product is this or that, just that the product is striving to be like this or that. I do believe what has to go into the emulation should be regulated so that one has a fair amount of confidence that we're not, say, blending Zinfandel and Concord grapes and calling that Burgundy.

And I do think there may be many winemakers who want to emulate other regions in their wines if these wines represent something special to them.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:36 pm

Regarding Bordeaux and Meritage, is there a problem with using the word "Claret"?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Gary Barlettano » Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:42 pm

Howie Hart wrote:Regarding Bordeaux and Meritage, is there a problem with using the word "Claret"?


I don't think "Claret" has a legal definition and it's not a geographical region. If I'm not mistaken, it's simply a British term used to refer to Bordeaux wines. But I'm sure someone will cry "foul" if we put it on a label! :)
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Maria Samms » Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:52 pm

Thank you so much everyone for this info!

Gary...thanks for those websites...helpful as always...and yes, I was pronouncing meritage incorrectly :oops: ...thanks for putting that info in there so I won't keep making a fool of myself!! LOL!

So in reading these definitions, I have still have a question regarding cuvee,

Outside Champagne the term cuvée is also used for still wines. It may refer to wines blended from different vineyards, or even different varieties


It makes sense to call something a cuvee if it's a blend of different varieties of grape (I have seen this on Chateauneuf-du-pape), but how can it be a blend of different vineyards? Maybe I am more confused about the naming of the French wines...If a wine is named for a certain Chateau, is that different than a vineyard? I thought that a Chateau owned a vineyard and that was what the wine was named after? Can someone please clarify this for me?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Tue Jan 16, 2007 3:03 pm

Gary Barlettano wrote:
Howie Hart wrote:Regarding Bordeaux and Meritage, is there a problem with using the word "Claret"?


I don't think "Claret" has a legal definition and it's not a geographical region. If I'm not mistaken, it's simply a British term used to refer to Bordeaux wines. But I'm sure someone will cry "foul" if we put it on a label! :)


You are and they will.

Claret has a very specific meaning; it means red wine from Bordeaux and it means nothing else. And it has done so for 300 years. It doesn't mean a Bordeaux blend from somewhere else or some wine that the marketeer thinks is vaguely suggestive of a Bordeaux. And it really gets on my tits when I see it being misused; you may as well call a hamburger a fillet steak if you want to mess around with language.

And it is protected in the EU.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Jan 16, 2007 3:25 pm

Oh, Peter, how very British you can be. :-)

You are undoubtedly right for English English usage, although even in Britain I've seen the word used to describe the colour "claret".

Outside those hallowed islands, though, claret is often used as a generic term to describe a light red wine. HRH Jancis (by way of Tim Unwin) opines in the O2d:

English (not American) term generally used to describe red wines from the Bordeaux region, or red bordeaux. Claret has also been used as a generic term for a vaguely identified class of red table wines supposedly drier, and possibly higher in tannins, than those wines sold as generic burgundy (although, in the history of Australian wine shows, it has been known for the same wine to win both claret and burgundy classes).

In medieval France, most red wine was the result of a short fermentation, usually of no more than one or two days. The short period of contact with the grape skins meant that the resultant wines were pale in colour, and were probably very similar to the rosés of today. Such wines exported from Bordeaux were known as vinum clarum, vin clar, or Clairet, and it is from the last of these that the English term claret is derived. Other much darker wines were also made by pressing the remaining skins, effectively the same as modern press wine, and these were known as vinum rubeum purum, bin vermelh, or pinpin.

Although the term clairet was widely used during the medieval period in France, the word claret does not appear to have been used at all extensively in England until the 16th century. In the second half of the 17th century a new type of wine, of much higher quality and deeper colour, began to be produced in the Graves and on the sands and gravels of the Médoc to the north west of Bordeaux. These wines, the provenance of specific properties, where close attention was paid to grape selection, improved methods of vinification, and the use of new oak barrels, became known by the beginning of the 18th century as New French Clarets, and the earliest and most famous of them were Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour, and Margaux (see Bordeaux, history).

Dr Tim Unwin


How dare the English convert "Clairet" to "Claret"?

And how can they drop the useful qualifiers from "New French Clarets", and now assert that the word "Claret" has only one true meaning?

Gets me in quite a tizzy it does when folks don't like our fine 'merican language. Same goes for the Aussie language, frankly.

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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Jan 16, 2007 3:37 pm

Here's another interesting link:
http://www.answers.com/topic/claret
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Gary Barlettano » Tue Jan 16, 2007 3:54 pm

Maria Samms wrote:Gary...thanks for those websites...helpful as always...and yes, I was pronouncing meritage incorrectly :oops: ...thanks for putting that info in there so I won't keep making a fool of myself!! LOL!


You were not making a fool of yourself, especially since I've run across many wine professionals who choose the Frenchified pronunciation of this word. I just find it peculiar since it is a made up word and the people who made it up actually tell us how they want it pronounced. Language is, however, a matter of convention. If a different pronunciation sticks, then that may eventually become "the" pronunciation regardless of what's in the official books. Think of the word "often." I was brought up saying this without pronouncing the "t," as in "soften" or "trestle" or "wrestle" and "nestle." But that "t" in "often" just keeps popping up and there's nothing I'm going be able to (or want to) do about it.

Maria Samms wrote:So in reading these definitions, I have still have a question regarding cuvee,

Outside Champagne the term cuvée is also used for still wines. It may refer to wines blended from different vineyards, or even different varieties


It makes sense to call something a cuvee if it's a blend of different varieties of grape (I have seen this on Chateauneuf-du-pape), but how can it be a blend of different vineyards? Maybe I am more confused about the naming of the French wines...If a wine is named for a certain Chateau, is that different than a vineyard? I thought that a Chateau owned a vineyard and that was what the wine was named after? Can someone please clarify this for me?


There are legal defintions of many words and there are conventional definitions and there are traditional definitions. To my mind, "cuvée" in its most general use is simply "what goes into a vat of wine" and that can come from any particular source. Of course, different wine regions have different rules and uses for the word, so it behooves us to study those definitions if we wish to comprehend what's on the label. (It wouldn't be any fun if it were easy.)

A "château," besides its meaning as a "castle," is, again very generally seen without getting into "local rules," a wine estate. An estate can be made up of many different named or unnamed vineyards, i.e. specific plots of ground with grapes planted, although all those sub-areas added up can be seen as one big vineyard. It's kind of like coming from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens or Manhattan ... you're still from New York, right?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Tue Jan 16, 2007 5:03 pm

Gary Barlettano wrote:[quote
There are legal defintions of many words and there are conventional definitions and there are traditional definitions. To my mind, "cuvée" in its most general use is simply "what goes into a vat of wine" and that can come from any particular source. Of course, different wine regions have different rules and uses for the word, so it behooves us to study those definitions if we wish to comprehend what's on the label. (It wouldn't be any fun if it were easy.)

A "château," besides its meaning as a "castle," is, again very generally seen without getting into "local rules," a wine estate. An estate can be made up of many different named or unnamed vineyards, i.e. specific plots of ground with grapes planted, although all those sub-areas added up can be seen as one big vineyard. It's kind of like coming from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens or Manhattan ... you're still from New York, right?


Everything Gary posted above is true, except the last sentence--most Manhattan-ites (who generally come from somewhere else) haven't a clue that there are four other boroughs in the city. It's taken 50 years to get yellow taxi drivers to figure it out (who generally come from somewhere else too)...

As for Claret, Bordeaux and the like, I will never understand a wine producer wanting to use the name of somewhere else to identify his/her product, which is why I think Meritage is a fine enough selection to identify a wine method. It does nothing, however, to identify a wine style, at least not for me. I've tasted a number of Meritage wines that bear little resemblance to Bordeaux and I've tasted some that do resemble a Bordeaux.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Maria Samms » Tue Jan 16, 2007 5:18 pm

A "château," besides its meaning as a "castle," is, again very generally seen without getting into "local rules," a wine estate. An estate can be made up of many different named or unnamed vineyards, i.e. specific plots of ground with grapes planted, although all those sub-areas added up can be seen as one big vineyard. It's kind of like coming from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens or Manhattan ... you're still from New York, right?


Thanks Gary...awesome explanation! (And I didn't say the "t" in often for the longest time...but I lived in other cities for a many yrs and luckily lost my NJ accent...although, it has started to creep back in now that I have been for 5 yrs...LOL!)
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Jan 16, 2007 5:40 pm

Maria, back to one of your question on cuvée, HRH Jancis has this to say:

cuvée

French wine term derived from cuve, with many different meanings in different contexts. In general terms it can be used to mean any container-ful, or lot, of wine and therefore wine labels often carry relatively meaningless descriptions incorporating the word cuvée. Tête de cuvée, on the other hand, is occasionally used for the top bottling of a French wine producer, particularly in Sauternes.

In champagne and other environments in which traditional method sparkling wines are made, cuvée is a name for the first and best juice to flow from the press (see sparkling wine-making). The blend of base wines assembled for second fermentation in bottle is also known as the cuvée. Thus the term is often used in many champagne and sparkling wine names.

Elsewhere, particularly in German-speaking wine regions oddly enough, cuvée may be used to describe any ambitious blend, particularly of different vine varieties.



cuve

Cuve is French for a vat or tank. Thus, a cuverie is the vat hall, typically where fermentation takes place. Cuves may be made of any material: wood, concrete, or, most likely, stainless steel.


As you can see from some of the other answers from folks here, "cuvée" is a very tricky word and one has to be sure they understand the context it is being used in to really understand it.

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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Jan 16, 2007 5:47 pm

Clark, here's a response from the Meritage folks; my notes from six years ago are consistent with what you remembered. It seems that the brand has been weakened:

Hello Robert,

You are correct. There are no restrictions on cases or price point at this time. The association has talked about having a production cap but nothing has been decided yet. There is no way for the association to control if it is the "best" of the vintage.

The term is meant to identify the wines as Bordeaux blends and to (hopefully) distinguish the wines from "red table wines"- but the members are essentially on an honor system for that aspect.

The license agreement goes into more detail regarding the commitment of the members. It can be found in the "Join" section of the site: http://www.meritagewine.org

Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions.

Thank you,
Nicole Shiflet
the Meritage Association



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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Victorwine » Tue Jan 16, 2007 7:08 pm

Gary wrote:
It's kind of like coming from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens or Manhattan ... you're still from New York, right?

Thomas wrote;
Everything Gary posted above is true, except the last sentence--most Manhattan-ites (who generally come from somewhere else) haven't a clue that there are four other boroughs in the city. It's taken 50 years to get yellow taxi drivers to figure it out (who generally come from somewhere else too)...

Just to add, die-hard Brooklyn-ites and Queens-ites will never admit they live on “Long Island”.

Salute
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Gary Barlettano » Tue Jan 16, 2007 7:16 pm

Victorwine wrote:Just to add, die-hard Brooklyn-ites and Queens-ites will never admit they live on “Long Island”.


That's "Lon Gisland," isn't it?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Tue Jan 16, 2007 7:20 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Oh, Peter, how very British you can be. :-)

even in Britain I've seen the word used to describe the colour "claret".


Well, of course. And claret is also used as slang for blood. And burgundy is used to describe a red colour. So what?

But a wine described as Claret is red Bordeaux. Nothing else. Fact. And the name is protected in EU law.

Bob Ross wrote:Outside those hallowed islands, though, claret is often used as a generic term to describe a light red wine.


Sure - and outside these hallowed islands Champagne is used to describe Andre's disgusting 3 buck California fizz with the plastic 'cork. Jancis is saying what happens. Doesn't make it right.

Words have meaning, and it does no-one any good to pervert their meaning. Why on earth would anyone else want to put Claret or Champagne on their wines unless it was to to mislead consumers and to demonstrate they haven't got confidence in their own product.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Jan 16, 2007 8:04 pm

Well, here's one guy who generally has quite a bit of confidence:

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Claret 2004, as its British-derived name implies, is a Cabernet-based wine blended with small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Robust and refined—think James Bond sitting down to a meal of rare filet mignon with a bottle of fine wine—it has lots of fruit, ripe tannins, and good structure. Our 2004 Claret can stand up to a flavorful steak but has enough finesse to do justice to a lightly seasoned pork tenderloin.

Every Francis Coppola Diamond Collection wine is made with grapes grown in California regions best suited to each varietal. We develop strong, enduring relationships with growers in each region to ensure the highest-quality fruit. Our winemakers work hand-in-hand with each to control the smallest to the largest of vineyard details and throughout the growing season spend considerable time in each vineyard, especially towards harvest when the grapes begin to reach maturity. When it’s time to pick, all of our decisions are based on flavor. The grapes are then made into wine using precise techniques to showcase the varietal character of each wine.

Winemaker’s Notes

The fruit for our Claret is grown in distinctive regions throughout California. We harvest Cabernet Sauvignon from El Dorado, where the high elevation keeps the grapes above the fog line and offers continual sunshine. We also harvest grapes from vineyards in Paso Robles, Sonoma and Napa counties. This combination of warm and slightly cooler climates results in a more complex wine with great balance.

Vintage 2004 was notable for its early bud break and consequent early harvest—one of the earliest on record. It was also a banner year for quality. Warm weather ripened the grapes, which were down in yield, a bonus condition, which allowed the flavors to naturally concentrate in each cluster. The grapes had incredible tannin and color development—indicators of a great vintage.

Our fruit is hand picked to ensure that only the best is harvested. The grapes are crushed and cold soaked to extract maximum flavor and color prior to fermentation. Following fermentation our Claret is aged in French oak barrels.

Tasting Profile

• Appearance: Deep garnet color
• Aromas: Lively black currant, allspice and mocha aromas
• Palate: Succulent wild berry, plum and anise flavors with hints
of spice and black pepper


This note seems pretty self confident to me, Peter.

But more to the point, the debate over "Claret" is really odd. The French never used, so far as I know, the name on wines made for sale in France. It seems to be only a commercial name for wines on offer in the UK -- and even its early history indicates there were other Clarets on offer -- why else the "New French Claret" tag in the second half of the 17th century.

That EU business is a bit of a red herring, frankly. The EU amendments in 2002 defined traditional expressions' as terms used traditionally to designate quality wines and refer to a production or ageing method, a colour, or a quality etc.

After the amendments, requests by third countries to use 'traditional expressions' are to be considered by the Commission and the Member States, and the right of use has to be granted if certain conditions are fulfilled.

One category of this type is applies to wines produced in the EU and included 'traditional expressions' which were linked to production in particular geographical areas and are exclusively reserved for EU wines, such as 'vin jaune', 'amarone', 'amontillado', 'ruby', etc. Some traditional expressions like "claret" that had been used for a long time in other areas of the world were not allowed to appear in the EU market on wine labels produced by third countries before 2002.

Now, in order to be able to use EU traditional expressions of this latter type on wine sold in the EU market, a third country, such as the US, Australia or New Zealand, has to prove that :

- The traditional expression in question is recognized and governed by either applicable rules or by rules laid down by representative producer organizations in the third country in question

- The term to be protected is distinctive and/or enjoys a reputation in the third country in question

- The term has been used for at least 10 years in the territory of the third country

- The rules of the third country concerning the term in question do not mislead the consumer regarding the term.

[Caution: I may not have this exactly right for "Claret"; I know there have been trade agreements between the EU and the US that may have modified some of the foregoing for the word "Claret".]

I'm not sure where individual producers stand on their ability to prove the use of "claret" in their home countries, but it is very easy to show that "Claret" has been used in the US and Australia for a number of years. I'll leave it to Coppola to come up with the proof if he wants to peddle the Diamond Series in the EU.

It appears he may have done so; according to Wine Searcher Pro one can buy FRANCIS COPPOLA DIAMOND SERIES Claret California Black Label 2003 in a German shop for 21.54 Euro.

Regards, Bob
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