Glossary: C

California
A state in The United States of America famous for its wine production. California has a long history of wine production from the sacramental to the supremely expensive, with Napa Valley being the premier wine growing region in the U.S.  

 

Catalonia

A wine region located around the area of Barcelona, Spain. Mainly known for Garnacha and other indigenous grapes grown in the region.

 

Carbonic maceration  
Process widely used in Beaujolais where uncrushed grapes are allowed to begin fermentation in a protective atmosphere of CO2. This process produces a style of wine that is low on tannin and high on fruit flavors.

 

Cava  
Spanish sparkling wine made using the traditional method. The production center is located in Catalonia; however, cava can be made in a number of regions in Spain.

 

Cellaring
This refers to the process of ageing a wine before consumption. This can take place in the winery, in a restaurant cellar or in a private home. 

 

Cépage  
French term for grape variety.

 

Chardonnay

The most recognized, ordered and grown white grape variety in the world, there is no introduction needed for this infamous grape. Chardonnay is the most planted white grape on the planet, being grown wherever fine wine is produced. The famous French wines of Chablis, Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault are all comprised if this grape, commanding some of the highest prices in the world for wine. Sonoma County has is also a hotbed of Chardonnay production, as is Australia and New Zealand. This wine can show crisp acidity and fresh flavors as in Chablis, or buttery and toasty oak-driven notes like some of the new world offerings. Look at any of the highest priced white wines at auction or in your retail store and they are likely to be made of Chardonnay

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is found in the Loire Valley of France, where it is the grape responsible for the great wines of Vouvray. There it can be found in a wide array of styles, from slightly dry to dessert sweet. There are many storied producers here, and slightly down the river you will find the wines of the Coteau du Layon, some of the most sought-after examples of sweet wines in the world. In South Africa, the wine is usually made in a lighter, drier style, and sometimes called by the synonym “Steen”. It has failed to rise to the heights seen in these select places elsewhere, while the best examples of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc can fetch hundreds of dollars on a restaurant wine list. A caveat to this are the wines of Sadie family and anything that Eben Sadie is associated with. They are that good (and he is that good), and the producers that are taking Chenin Blanc and treating in the way Sadie is are seeing fantastic results.

Chaptalization  
Winemaking term for the addition of sugar to the fermenting grape must in order to increase alcohol and glycerin levels.  

 

Chile
A country in South America that is famous for its wine production. Bordeaux grape varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.) thrive in this maritime climate, with many famous European and American producers setting up an outpost there.

 

Claret  
Old-fashioned English term for red wines from the Bordeaux region. Sometimes used on wine labels in the new world to represent a blend of some or all of the Bordeaux grape varieties.

 

Clarification  
The removing of solid matter out of the wine before bottling.

 

Classified Growth  
This refers to the classification process that certain regions, namely in France, undergo to assess quality and pricing levels. It should be noted that the classification level of a wine is not always an exact barometer of quality. Specifically, the phrase was coined when Napoleon III commissioned the ranking of the properties on the left bank of the Gironde estuary in 1855 for the Paris Expedition. 

 

Clean  
A wine which doesn't have any off-flavors or taints is called 'clean'. Most wines on the market these days are 'clean'

 

Clonal selection

Agricultural term for the production of specific clones of each grape variety, choosing the characteristics that are the most advantageous to a specific region or area and increasing the likelihood of those characteristics through genetic engineering.

 

Closed  
A wine tasting term. This represents a wine that is not showing its full aroma or flavor potential or expectations.

 

Columbia Valley, Washington

An AVA in Washington State known for its red wine grape growing. The area is enormous, with a size that's close to Rhode Island, and every popular red wine grape in America is grown there in some fashion. The area is actually a desert, with agriculture only possible from the irrigation that the Columbia River provides. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends have made the biggest impression, with the Syrah based wines not far behind. Columbia Valley is a great place to recommend wine from for those new world drinkers who want to try something a little drier, and old world drinkers who want something with a touch more fruit (but not as much as California!).

Corked  
A wine tasting term that describes trichloroanisole (TCA). This chemical compound is most often found when cork forming and cleaning chemicals with mold, creating the foul aromas associated with TCA, or “corked” wines.

 

Cosecha
Spanish word for vintage.

 

Côte
A “côte” is a slope or hillside (France) that usually has a geographical or climactic impact on the wine. Otherwise, it is just a geographical indication.

 

Coulure
One of many maladies that the grapevine faces during its lifecycle. Once the vine has flowered, there should develop a small fruit (grapes) in place of each flower. A “failed” fruit set in this way is coulure.

 

Crémant
A sparkling wine made by the traditional method in France. These are specific regions that have strict AOC law applied to them.

 

Crianza
An ageing term used in Spain indicating a younger wine that has seen little additional ageing processes.

 

Crossing (viticulture)
A “crossing” is the result of breeding two Vitis vinifera plants. A “hybrid” which involves using American vines.

 

Cru
This term can indicate a vineyard or a classified wine.

 

Cru Artisan

A classification in Bordeaux, France. This designation has existed for 150 years, denoting the smaller producers in the Medoc areas of Bordeaux. In 1989, a resurgence of this classification led to the designation being revived, and as of 1994 can be printed on the label for export.

Cru Bourgeois
A classification in Bordeaux, France. While this designation dates back hundreds of years, it was only in 1932 that the designation was revived, with new regulations coming in 2010. These properties tend to be in the outlying areas of Bordeaux and are recognized by industry professionals in the region.

Cru Classé
The higher level of classification for wine in Bordeaux, France.

 

Crust
The somewhat hard and “crusty” cap that forms on the top of a fermentation vat. It is the solid matter from the process that has settled to the top.

 

Cryo-extraction
A process by which grapes (or juice) is frozen to concentrate the sugar levels and produce a sweeter wine.

 

Cuvaison
The period when the solid matter (grape skins, pips, etc.) is left to macerate in the wine during fermentation in order to extract color, flavor and tannin.