What’s in a name

What’s in a name? In the wine world, often confusion, occasionally chaos.

What is the difference between pinot noir and Burgundy wine? Pinot noir is the name of the grape that makes red wine in the Burgundy region of east-central France, except Burgundy also is region where some white wine is made using chardonnay grapes, so white Burgundy is chardonnay. Burgundy, however, typically is red wine made in Burgundy region using pinot noir grapes.

But not always. Some wineries have grandfathered names, so Gallo makes “Hearty Burgundy” using syrah, cabernet sauvignon and other grapes but, ironically, no pinot noir. Chaos.

Sauvignon blanc is a terrifically food-friendly wine. When it is made near the French village of Sancerre, it is called Sancerre. When it is made on the opposite bank of the Loire River, it is called Pouilly-Fumé. When it is made anywhere else it is called sauvignon blanc. So, all Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines are sauvignon blancs, but not all sauvignon blancs are Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumés. Confusion.

Bordeaux blends pose another vexing lexicon tumult. In the 1700s, the Brits called Bordeaux blends “claret” to refer to lighter red blends from the region. Three centuries later, the term is used to describe any Bordeaux blend—cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, and petit verdot. The increased use of the name, in the wine world, is called the Downton Abbey effect. As with Burgundy, Champagne, Sancerre, and Pouilly-Fumé, confusion and sometimes chaos. But often delicious wine.

Tasting notes:

• Trivento Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Mendoza 2016: Restrained cab targets those who want an easy drinker with reserved tannin and red fruit flavors. $10-11 Link to my review

• Sterling Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay California 2015: Well done chard that touches all the bases without excess; plenty of fruit, restrained oak and butter. $11 Link to my review

• McBride Sisters Collection Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016: Delicious, will work as an aperitif as well a great food pairing. $17 Link to my review

• Amavi Cellars Sémillon 2016: Easy drinker with terrific mouthfeel; clean, fresh, extremely well made, lively and delicious. $21-24 Link to my review

• Michael David Earthquake Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: Earth-shaking cab; smooth, big, bold, dark fruit monster, high alcohol. $24-26 Link to my review

• Sbragia Family Vineyards Gino’s Vineyard Zinfandel 2014: Tasty, delicious zin made by talented California winemaking family; decanting allows this to become more complex and approachable. $27 Link to my review

Last round: I’ve trained my dog to bring me wine. She’s a Bordeaux collie.