BALANCED Said of a wine in which acidity and sugar (tannins for red wines) are present in equal proportions. See also UNBALANCED.
BALSAMIC A series of tertiary aromas from the perfume industry that include vanilla, incense, sandalwood pine resin, beeswax and camphor. These aromas appear after aging in the anaerobic environment of the bottle.
BAN DES VENDANGES (OFFICIAL HARVEST DATE) Official date set by prefectorial decree that authorizes the start of the annual harvest. It is often a time of celebration and festivities.
BAROQUE White grape variety grown in Béarn.
BARREL Wooden oak cask used for wines that are designed to be aged before bottling. The barrel is a cask that varies in size depending on the region: 225 liters in Bordeaux, 228 liters in Burgundy and 215 liters in Beaujolais.
BITTERNESS Though a normal component of young, highly tannic red wines, (bitterness and astringency reinforce one another), bitterness can also be a defect caused by a bacterial infection during malolactic fermentation.
BLANC DE BLANCS Expression used for white wines made from white grapes that is especially applied to Champagnes created from 100% Chardonnay to distinguish them from Blancs de Noirs, which are made from the red varieties Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
BLANC DE NOIRS Expression used for white wines that are created from red varieties. For the most part, these are Champagnes made from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier. It is possible to obtain Blanc de Noirs that are light in color by separating the juice from the red grape skins. With carefully controlled pressing the pigments from the skin can be prevented from passing into the pulp.
BLENDING Mix of wines from multiple vintages from the same estate that is created based on the soils, the grape varieties, the age of the grapevines and other factors to obtain a unique wine. Blending (assemblage) is the art of creating a fine wine from different pre-existing batches of wine. The goal is to create a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Blending, which occurs before aging, expresses the talent of the winemaker or vintner. It is different than the notion of coupage, also expressed as blending in English, which has more negative connotations.
BLOSSOMED Said of a wine that has attained its full bouquet. It is ready to drink, has been aged to perfection and has achieved the perfect balance.
BODY Character that combines fullness (robustness and fleshiness) and heat (alcohol content)
BORDEAUX MIX (BOUILLIE BORDELAISE) Copper sulfate used as an antiparasitic treatment for grapevines
BOTRYTIS CINEREA Name of the fungus that leads to grape rot (also called gray rot) at the end of the growing season when the grape skin is exposed to humidity and rain. Though often destructive, in some climatic conditions it can shrink the grapes, resulting in concentrated grape juice that can be used to produce sweet white wines. When this occurs, Botrytis cinerea is called noble rot. The climatic conditions required are damp, foggy nights and sunny days, which are found in the Sauternes region of Bordeaux, among other locations.
BOUQUET Combination of odors that a wine develops after a period of bottle aging, which is also known as its tertiary aroma. There are two different types of bouquets. The oxidized bouquet is sought-after in certain wines that are high in alcohol such as Vins Doux Naturels. The wines are oxidized (by being kept in barrels that are not fully topped off, or other methods) and acquire an amber color as well as oxidized aromas of apple, quince, almonds, nuts and rancio. This is the case for the Vins Doux Naturels of Rivesaltes or Banyuls. The bottle bouquet applies to fine traditional wines that are aged in sealed bottles. During the bottle aging process, the primary and secondary aromas are transformed into the bouquet without the influence of oxygen. The bottle bouquet includes animal (leather, venison and fur), vegetal (underbrush and mushrooms) and other aromas. Highly sensitive to the presence of oxygen, this bouquet can dissipate quickly or change dramatically. For this reason, it is not recommended that older wines be decanted very long before serving them. In addition, once the bottle has been opened, these wines lose their bouquet quickly.
BOURBES See DÉBOURBAGE (SETTLING)
BOURBOULENC A fine white grape variety from the Mediterranean that produces aromatic and fruity whites. Synonym: Malvoisie du Languedoc.
BOURRU Vin bourru. The French term for wine at the end of the fermentation process that still contains some sugar and carbonation and is not clarified. This wine is consumed in some regions to celebrate the creation of new wines.
BRETON Name used for Cabernet Franc in the Loire Valley.
BRIGHT Said of a clear wine that strongly reflects the light. A sign of a high quality wine.
BRUT Sparkling wines for which the shipping dosage contains very little sugar, only between 6 and 15 grams per bottle, which is just enough to temper the acidity of the wine. “Brut zero” is the term used when no sugar is added. The shipping dosage, which consists of cane sugar dissolved in wine, is added just before the final corking of the bottles.
BUDBREAK Opening of the buds and appearance of the grapevine’s first leaves.
BUNG Stopper on the top of a barrel.
BURNT A somewhat ambiguous descriptor used for a diverse range of odors from caramel to burned wood.