There are several thousand wineries in the world and only a small fraction of them make wooden wine crates. Fortunately this guide also applies to wines packaged in cardboard.
Some wine crates and boxes have many details on the vineyard, grape type and producer, but some only have a unique picture logo and a small amount of lettering. The rest is a mystery.
I can show you how to determine where most labels are from with certainty, but there'll be a few that you'll come across that may stump or trick you.
First the easiest and by far my favorite wine making country: France. Specifically Bordeaux:
Determining that a wine crate is from Bordeaux is the easiest thing to do once you know what to look for. Almost all have the designation (Grand Cru or Cru Bourgeois - Grand Cru being the best) the name of the winery and the vintage.
Here's another example:
The one detail missing from the Haut-Bages Liberal crate is the part of Bordeaux in which the wine is from or the "Sub-region" which is shown above on the Dauzac crate (Margaux)
Most Bordeaux wine crates detail the following characteristics from top to bottom based on level of importance:
- Designation or Classification
- The Winery
Burgundy on the other hand is a more complex wine making region in France. The AOC of Burgundian vineyards isn't as strict in regards to conformity of branding therefore there's more of an artistic license given to the vineyards. Ironically Burgundy maintains a much more of an old world pretense where that freedom of artistic license is far more subtle.
There aren't nearly as many wineries from Burgundy that make wine crates. Bordeaux is by far the leader in that department.
Most Burgundy vineyards make 6 bottle wine boxes. Some make the 12 bottle size:
The Classification of vineyards is the most important here, and those classifications are based heavily on the sub-region aka Commune as well as the single vineyard(s) that the grapes were chosen from. There are essentially 3 types of fine Burgundy wine classifications:
Grand Cru or 1er (The best)
Premier Cru (Second best)
Bourgogne (Third best)
I don't want to get too much into classifications because there's enough on that subject to write a book. We're talking only about wine labels so let's get into Burgundy:
You can generally assume a French crate is from Burgundy if you see Domaine on it. You'll never see Chateau. You can also assume the vineyard is either Premier or Grand Cru and it's exceptional.
For the most part:
- Domaine = Burgundy
- Chateau = Bordeaux
- European Cote of Arms designs are only found in old world regions (France, Italy and Portugal)
- Marchesi Antinori is one of the most famous Italian wine makers
- Solaia is one of the most famous Italian wines
- Riserva = Italian (Reserve = US and Reserva = Spain)
- Frescobaldi is a famous noble family from Tuscany
- Brunello Di Montalcino is a famous major wine region of Italy
There are 2 subtle indications that this is a Spanish vineyards:
- La Nieta is a specific dialect of the Spanish language that can only be found in Spain
- The Spanish style architecture.