What’s in a name? Well, in the world of winemaking, quite a lot.
The whole purpose of Apellations d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) is to reassure customers that a wine by any other name isn’t the same wine at all. This is because appellation denotes a specific region of origin (terroir) and rules for winemaking that must be strictly abided. It’s bolstered by legal backing, meaning that misusing appellation constitutes as fraud. Giving the customer clarity, appellation can also help increase sales because of the qualities associated with the certification, including reliability and quality.
Following the theme of discovering the world of AOC, November’s My Vitibox includes two bottles of wine that are AOC certified. This is always clearly indicated on the label, so its significance is implied- but what qualities can be expected from these wines? This is where the My Vitibox subscriber magazine comes in handy, providing a very insightful guide to yet another factor to consider when selecting a bottle of wine. Opening the box that arrives at my door, I first noticed that the packaging had changed slightly – now each bottle is slotted into a separate compartment, meaning that all arrives safely and securely to subscribers.
My Vitibox November 2016: Let’s discover the world of “Apellations d’Origine Contrôlée “
- 1 bottle of Le Rêve (Vignoble les Fusionels, 2013)
- 1 bottle of Artésis Rouge (Maison Ogier, 2015)
- 1 subscriber magazine
The first bottle, Le Rêve from Vignoble les Fusionels, comes from the Faugères appellation. This literally meant nothing to me without further elucidation, but I was curious to see whether I could denote a superior quality of wine because it was certified. The magazine explains that the appellation describes a region that is hilly and diverse. While most drinkers will associate robust and spicy wines with Faugères, this wine defies expectations – it’s delicate with floral aromas and a light body. In the glass, this wine boasts a rich purple hue with substantial viscosity. The aromas, on the other hand, give off a bouquet of big, floral – mostly violets – with a hint of pepper. The taste is as intense as the nose on this wine, but it’s a surprisingly clean and silky mouthfeel. It has a lingering finish that’s very pleasant. Not too rich or tannin-heavy, this is an extremely drinkable style. The pairings recommended include black tapenade and blood sausage – but I think the dessert match, a lavender crème brulée, would be worth a punt. I imagine that the lavender would work exceptionally well with the prominent floral notes here.
Moving on, the Artésis Rouge from Maison Ogier hails from the Côtes du Rhônes appellation. In this region, a blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes is very common, and this wine includes both with an addition of Mourvèdre grapes. Alain, the My Vitibox in-house sommelier and expert, explains that this adds more structure and tannic qualities to the wine. On appearance, the Artésis is as dark as the Le Rêve, a rich purple with a quite viscous body. On the nose, however, aromas are predominately spicy with hints of blackcurrant. The taste profile matched Le Rêve as well, being surprisingly light and fresh on the palate with a hint of tannins and a nice sweetness in the mouth. Perhaps not as delicate, the Artésis is just as drinkable as Le Rêve. Its suggested pairing is with spaghetti Bolognese – a dish that likely makes every household rota in some form- so this is a wine that can easily accompany a meal.
This month’s MyVitibox included two bottles of red wine, which also poses a challenge for me as a white wine drinker. But I’ve been largely impressed by the red wines received in my boxes, finding them very drinkable on their own (rather than with a meal exclusively, which is how I used to drink reds). Both bottles in November’s offerings are no exception, being both pleasant and highly palatable. I enjoyed this theme as well, learning the significance of AOC and the history behind it – and I will be sure to notice this on my labels in the future. While it denotes quality and consistency, it doesn’t pigeonhole the characteristics of the wine itself – the unexpected floral notes in the Le Rêve demonstrate this. So the accreditation doesn’t necessarily restrict the wine to the same, stale styles.
There are two subscription options available from My Vitibox: The Colours & Flavours subscription, which includes two bottles a month to pair with food from £20 (plus £5 shipping), and the Red Passion subscription, which includes two bottles of reds selected by Alain Gousse and Le Figaro from £30 (plus £5 shipping). These options are also available as gift subscriptions and would make a great present for anyone who either enjoys discovering wine or merely enjoys having a glass of something hand selected by an expert. It takes the work out of sifting through your local bottle shop’s range, right?