546 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 4 J U L Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE
As a result, only in the 19th century did wine regions begin to adopt particular
shapes to help identify their wines’ origin, although apparently, at
least on billboards, certain wineries in the 21st century seem to want to create
Until the close of World War II, wines from Burgundy and Champagne
often still came in 800 ml bottles while Beaujolais was known for its 500 ml
pot-shaped bottle. It was not until 1979 that the U.S. set a requirement that
all bottles produced there be exactly 750 ml (almost equivalent in size to an
American “fifth”). At about the same time the EU asked European winemakers
to settle on one size, and the 750 ml became the standard so that
winemakers could ship to the U.S. with ease.
So it always seems that beneath a romantic notion there lies a prosaic
Except perhaps for that corseted bottle from Provence. As one writer
During the 1930s, Provençal domaines who produced quality wines
started to think of bottling their wine—as opposed to relying on a négociant
or shipper—and decided to design their own bottles. During the
1980s it was not uncommon to visit a Provençal domaine which used an
individual bottle shape, to be told that it had been designed by the grandmother.
The competition between the domaines must have been intense,
as families vied to design the most elegant and distinctive bottle. Many
used the classical amphorae or medieval jars as their inspiration …
In 1931, the ‘Syndicat de Defense des Côtes de Provence’ was created.
They aimed, and still do, at maintaining the quality and image of the
wines of the region. In 1960, as increasingly more vineyards bottled their
own wine using either the Burgundy or Hollandaise bottle, the Syndicat
decided to design and copyright its own bottle.
The ‘flute à corset Provençal’, nicknamed the ‘Mae West’ (for obvious reasons)
is only allowed to be used for domaine bottled wines and permission
to use this bottle, nicknamed the ‘aubergine’ is reserved for use by
négociant bottled wines but this is less strictly controlled. Only appellation
Côtes de Provence wines are permitted to use either of these bottles.2
Hence the sexy shape seen to the far right above. As Mae West said, “Cultivate
your curves—they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided.”
Perhaps romanticism also still persists with those outsized bottles that
certain wineries produce to contain their best product for the most ardent
collectors. Those sizes have some wonderful names, most often of Old Testament
kings. The more common include:
Magnum: Two bottles or 1.5 litres.
Double Magnum: Twice the size of a magnum, holding 3 litres, or the
equivalent of 4 bottles.