Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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French for vine variety. A varietal wine, one that is sold by the name of the principal grape variety from which it is made is known as a vin de cépage within France, a term which has had some pejorative sense in comparison with a geographically named wine which qualifies as appellation contrôlée. High-quality vine varieties such as Syrah (as opposed to such traditional varieties as Carignan and Alicante Bouschet) are described as cépages améliorateurs, or ‘improving varieties’, in the south of France.