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C

Cabernet Sauvignon
There are two types of this widely planted grape variety in Bordeaux: Cabernet Franc (grown mostly on the Right Bank of the Garonne, particularly in the Saint-Emilion and Côtes de Bordeaux regions) and Cabernet Sauvignon (grown mostly on the Garonne's Left Bank, in the Médoc and Graves regions).

Cap
Describes the grapes' solid matter that rises to the top of the juice in the fermentation vat and forms a thick layer after a few days of fermentation. When fermentation is finished, the cap is pressed to obtain "vin de presse" or press juice.

Casse
An accident that affects wine's clarity, due to high concentrations of specific elements. Named for the element that causes the problem, such as an "iron casse" or "protein casse", the problem is these elements solidify and cloud the affected wine.

Caudalie
Derived from the word caudal (tail), this is the unit used to measure the persistence of a wine's finish. One caudalie represents one second. A fine wine can have a finish that lasts up to 8 caudalies, or even longer.

Chambrer
This involves leaving a wine for a couple of hours so that it reaches the same temperature as the room where it will be enjoyed. Formerly, these rooms remained cool all year long, between 16-18°C, which is ideal for wine. Nowadays, it is important to lower wine's serving temperature, since rooms are usually heated in winter and too warm in summer.

Chaptalisation
Describes the process, invented by Chaptal, of adding sugar to harvested grapes to increase the alcohol level if it is too low in order to balance the wine. This practice is regulated yearly with each harvest and is generally illegal in southern France.

Character
Used to describe wine. A wine's character refers to its terroir, grape varieties used, or how it was vinified. For example, wine can have a character that is "straightforward" or "generous."

Château
In Bordeaux, Château does not necessarily refer to a building with the same name, but rather to a notion of of specific production area and terroir. On any given area in Bordeaux, whether it is classified or not, the wine produced there is a result of a unique combination of the climate, soils, grape varieties and experience of the winegrower.

Chewy
Describes wine that is thick and full in the mouth, giving the impression that it can be chewed.

Clairet (Claret)
Refers to a light, smooth and fruity wine which is normally consumed during its first or second year. The "French Clarets" were widely exported to the United Kingdom two centuries ago, and remain very popular.

Clarification (Fining)
A process that involves adding a substance to the wine that binds with particles in suspension that affect the wine's clarity, causing them to fall to the bottom of the vat or barrel. Egg whites are still used in the barrels of major Bordeaux châteaux.

Clones
Rootstock that is genetically identical and created from a single plant, called the master rootstock.

Closed
Describes wine that needs to age in order to develop its aromatic qualities, which sometimes remain unusually weak for its quality and terroir. Sometimes the wine passes through a phase when it is less expressive that otherwise would be expected for its vintage or quality level.

Colombard
A variety of white grape from the south west of France that is used in Bordeaux, but typical of Cognac. It produced lively wines that are fruity and aromatic when young.

Concentrated
Describes a rich wine, with a refined colour, power and diverse aromas. A wine's concentration often results from a long period of maceration during fermentation and is possible when the grapes are thoroughly mature and contain a significant concentration of tannins.

Corked
Wine takes on the taste of the cork due to poor quality corks and unhygienic bottling conditions. However, wine can even become corked despite the very best bottling conditions.

Coulure
Describes poor pollination of grape blossoms that can be caused by many things (rainy or cold weather) and which greatly influences yield and the uniformity of grapes in the same cluster.

Crushing
The process of splitting open grapes after de-stemming to allow their juice to escape. Was done by foot until the development of efficient machinery.

Cuvaison
Describes the step in the vinification process when the must macerates in stainless steel, concrete or wood vats. The sugar in the grapes is transformed into alcohol and both tannins and pigments are extracted from the grape skins. The winemaker determines the appropriate length of time. Bordeaux Clairets and rosés have a relatively short cuvaison period in order to control their colour.


 

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