If you’ve been into the store recently you might have noticed that some of our popular wine kits have new names. It’s not a Hallowe’en trick – it’s all part of the wine industry’s deep love of appellations d’origine contrôllée (AOC – roughly translated “controlled designation of origin”) that determine how a wine can be named and labelled, depending on where it’s made, and from which grapes.
If you’re wondering where your favourite Barolo, Chianti, or Valpolicella kits went, read on to learn where you can find them in-store, and why they changed… (They’re still there, just under different identities)
What is appellation d’origine contrôllée (AOC)?
AOC is based on the notion of terroir – that a food product derives its particular taste from the unique features of where it was grown. Terroir is why German wines with grapes grown in limestone-rich soil are often described as “mineral” in taste, etc. The AOC (VQA, AVA, COD, etc.) restriction is meant to ensure that only wines made from grapes grown in a particular region can bear the name of that region or wine-style. Only wines made from grapes grown in Bordeaux (and thus sharing the particular growing conditions of that soil) can be called Bordelais wines or Bordeaux. Shiraz-style wines produced in Australia are called Syrah, etc.
Another example of this is champagne. Technically, only wines made in the French region of Champagne can be named and labelled as champagne. Similar wines made elsewhere in France or the world (even sparkling wines made from the same grape type, according to the same winemaking methods), are instead called “sparkling wine,” “brut,” “spumante,” or “sekt.” The finished product is the same in so many ways – just produced in a different area.
What does this mean for my wine kits?
France has long been a stickler for AOC (see note about champagne, above), but other wine-growing regions are starting to follow suit. A few years ago, Spain and Italy started cracking down on popular wines with their regionally-controlled names, which is why you may have noticed our wine kits went from being called “Chianti” to “Chianti-style” and such. The trademarking is now even more firmly protected, so we’re honouring their desires for name-protection by switching the names of our “big red” Italian wines to designate the name of the grape rather than the style.
What’s the difference?
In essence, there is none. The wine kit contents haven’t changed, and the finished wines are the same as they’ve always been. Just like Shakespeare’s rose, our Valroza still smells as sweet (and tastes as great) as it did when it was called Valpolicella. It got a new name simply because the wine itself is not produced and bottled in the Valpolicella region of Italy, even though it’s made from the same grapes, from the same region, as Valpolicella-labelled wines.
Here’s a cheat-sheet to help you find your favourite kits:
If you loved our Barolo, your favourite kit is now called Nebbiolo.
If you used to reach for a kit of Chianti, you’ll find it’s now called Sangiovese.
If you enjoyed Valpolicella, the same wine kit is now called Valroza.
Lovers of Spanish Rioja will find the same kit is now called Tempranillo.
They’re the same wine kits – they just have new names.
Hopefully that helps clear some of the confusion of the “new” wine kits you may have noticed in-store! Turns out, they’re really the same “old” (world) wines you already know and love – just with shiny new names.