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Labels get complicated when they attempt to pin down the source of the wine. This is because most w ine laws recognize several layers detail. A wine may be from a broad region, from a village or district within the region, from a closely defined quality zone the best hill side in a village or from a specific vineyard or farm.

Each country, and each region, has a slightly different approach. The French system puts the most stress on the location of the producing vineyard, but even so the French regions vary widely in the level of detail they provide. In Champagne, for instance, it is quite rare for the label to describe the source of the grapes within the broad 25,000 ha (62,000 acres) of vineyards which are entitled to use
the Champagne Appellation d' Origine Controlee (AOC). In nearby Burgundy, AOCs apply to the broad region, to communes within it and so on, in a sort of Russian doll system, down to individual vineyards which may be as small as less than a hectare (two acres).

It would be helpful if every wine showed the region it comes from, with the more detailed location added if appropriate. This is not the practice, however, in many places. The consumer is expected to know, for instance, that the Barolo zone is in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, and that Echezeaux is a small but grand vineyard in a particular corner of Burgundy.

Germany offers more clues, insisting that the region be named; but the length of German names, combined sometimes with the difficulties of black-letter script, make the information hard to disentangle. Again, the burden placed on the consumer is an unreasonable one: to remember the names and qualities of Germany's 2,000 or so named vineyards.

Spain and Portugal nearly always mention the region, in addition to the name of the producer and/or estate.

 
Wine regions of the world.

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