Definition - What does Varietal Labeling mean?
Varietal labeling is when a wine is labeled and named in accordance with the variety of grape used to make it, indicating that the type of wine and grape variety are one and the same. A varietal labeling of a wine can only be done if more than 75% of the named grape variety is used in fermenting the wine and if the entire 75% of grapes are grown in the labeled appellation of the origin area.
Although the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in the United States of America (USA) has fixed the percentage of grapes at 75%, there are exceptions made for a wine made from the vitis labrusca variety of grapes. Wines made from those kinds of grapes can practice varietal labeling if 51% of the fermented juice of the grape named is used.
WineFrog explains Varietal Labeling
The practice of varietal labeling was first followed in the USA. Subsequently, winemakers in France, Italy and other European nations have started labeling their wines with the name of the grape used in fermentation.
Although the laws state that the percentage of grape used should not be less than 75%, the state of Oregon in the USA has stricter laws, which state that at least 90% grapes of the same variety should be used in order to practice varietal labeling. There is an exception on 18 varieties in Oregon after petitions citing the original production of the wine in Europe will be matched by following the 75% rule.
The names of two or more grape varieties can be used in varietal labeling only if all the grapes used in making the wine are of the labeled varieties and if the percentage of the wine derived from each type of grape is clearly indicated on the wine label. The practice of varietal labeling is slowly gaining popularity in the wine labeling industry as opposed to the traditional practice of naming the wine from the area of origin.