What Does Chateau Mean in Wine?

To become a wine connoisseur, it is key that you learn about the industry. Over the years, winemakers have developed their own language, so you need to familiarise yourself with the key terms of viticulture.

French connection

‘Chateau’ is commonly associated with French winemaking. If you browse Ideal Wine company’s Bordeaux wine list, for example, you’ll see that many of the vintages produced in this iconic French winemaking region are chateaus e.g. Chateau Margaux. Basically ‘chateau’ is the French word for ‘country house’ or even ‘castle,’ but it has a much more complex meaning in the world of winemaking.

History lesson

Historically, wine tour provider Castle Experience writes, chateaus were palaces that French nobles re-treated to during times of strife. Many of these mansions included winemaking estates and over the centuries, the meaning of the word has evolved.

When it comes to wine, today chateau is used to refer to an estate which is specifically devoted to winemaking. Therefore when we call a product a Chateau Margaux, we are saying that it is a wine which was produced in the winery of Margaux.

Speaking of Chateau Margaux, these wines are perhaps the most famous and expensive chateau-labelled products in the world. In 1855, Chateau Margaux became the first winemaking estate in Bordeaux to earn ‘premier cru’ status.

If you want to sample this world-renowned winery’s products, purchase the Chateau Margaux 1993, a deep, robust red, from Ideal Wine Company right now.

Regional variations

The meaning of the word chateau differs in the EU and the US. Winemakers in the US are allowed to utilise chateau as a branding tool, meaning that it can be used to refer to any wine.

However, in the EU, chateau can only be used to refer to wines which are made from grapes grown within one winery. Many wineries use both their own grapes and grapes from other estates in their products.

Clearing up confusion

Chateau is often confused with ‘domaine;’ the French word for ‘territory.’ Wine Spectator writes that these words are often used interchangeably to refer to where a vintage was produced. In most nations, there are no legal restrictions on either of these terms. However in France domaine tends to be used for Burgundy wines, while chateau is often used to refer to Bordeaux wines.

Chateau is just one of the terms you need to familiarise yourself with to become a wine connoisseur. To find out more, head to the Glossary Page on Ideal Wine Company’s official website. On this page, we list the core terms you need to learn about, in order to deepen your understanding of fine wine.