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Grape Notes

See also the glossary.

A

Acolon is a red grape created recently, in 1972, (more fully recognized this century) a cross of Blaufränkisch and Dornfelder. Key qualities are its depth of colour, mild tannins, fruity flavours and early ripening qualities, all of which make it popular in cool climate winegrowing. It is planted in Germany and England.

Aglianico is a red grape of significant importance in southern Italy. It provides wines of impressive structure and depth with real ageing potential. Found in Campania and Basilicata.

Airén is a white grape that dominates plantings in Spain’s central region La Mancha, producing a veritable sea of generally unexciting dull wines. At its best it can be lightly fruity and moderately attractive.

Albarín is a relatively rare white grape grown in the northern Asturias area of Spain and also planted in the Tierra de León DO, as well as being included in Vinos de la Tierra whites from Castilla y León. Yields need to be controlled and the wine is often quite alcoholic with a light herbaceous character.

Albariño is a top quality white grape mainly found in Galicia in north-west Spain. It has often been compared to Viognier. It shares some of that varieties perfume and it’s similarly best to focus on buying from good producers. Yields need to be kept low for the best results. Wines vary from light, fresh and for youthful drinking to more serious barrel-fermented and aged examples, although these are much rarer. Most are aged on their fine lees for a few months. The same variety, Alvarinho is cultivated across the border in Portugal and is a major component of Vinho Verde and other good crisp northern Portuguese whites.

Albillo is an emerging good quality white grape, when handled correctly, with restricted yields found mainly in west central Spain in the Vinos de Madrid DO; with other wines taking the Vinos de la Tierra Castilla y León classification. Also planted in Ribera del Duero and the Canary Islands.

Alicante Bouschet is an unusual teinturier crossing which was once much more widely planted in southern France. Other examples can be found in Portugal in the Alentejo region, in Chile as a component in blends, in southern and central Italy, as well as in California. It goes by the name of Garnacha Tintorera in Spain. Refer also to Garnacha Tintorera.

Aligoté is a white grape which makes for wines with marked, nervy acidity is notable for its cultivation in Burgundy. As well as dry white Bourgogne Aligoté, the variety is a regular component in Crémant de Bourgogne blends.

Altesse - refer to Roussette.

Alvarinho - refer to Albariño.

Ansonica - refer to Inzolia.

Aragonês - refer to Tempranillo.

Arinto is a Portuguese variety of some quality, found in white blends produced in the south of the country.

Arneis is a white grape, native to Piedmont in north-west Italy. It is an elegant and subtle variety, in marked contrast to the great Nebbiolo red of the area. Arneis is also planted in California, Australia and New Zealand, albeit in fairly small acreages.

Assyrtiko is a good quality white grape native to the island of Santorini in the Greek Aegean. Some very fine and mineral style whites have been produced on Santorini and the grape is widely established elsewhere in the country.

Auxerrois is a white variety important in Alsace, where it is often blended with Pinot Blanc, as well as being used in Crémant d’Alsace. Also cultivated in Germany, Luxembourg and England where it is both oak aged and incorporated in some sparkling wine blends.

B

Bacchus is a white variety with some good, floral, herbaceous examples now produced in England as well as in its native Germany, particularly Franconia. It will enable ripening of relatively high sugar levels in cool climates.

Baga is a red variety planted in the Bairrada region of Portugal. It tends to produce wines with marked tannin and high acidity. Some very good examples are produced.

Barbera is the second most important red variety from Piedmont after Nebbiolo. Very good examples are produced in Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti as well as some new wave styles from the region. You’ll also find the variety in California, Argentina and Australia but the wines are not of the same order as their Italian counterparts.

Bastardo is a minor variety in Portugal and cultivated in the Dão region, as well as being include in some Port blends. It is also the same variety as the Trousseau found in the Jura in France.

Bical is a white Portuguese variety, producing sound not great dry and some sparkling wines.

Blaufränkisch is a dark skinned German red variety that is widely planted throughout central Europe including Austria, Germany (known as Lemberger) and Hungary (known as Kékfrankos) where it contributes to the blend of the famous Bulls Blood in Eger. The wines are typically full-bodied and show spicy black fruits.

Bobal is a relatively widely planted red variety in central Spain. The best examples produce concentrated, at times beguiling and very powerful black-fruited reds. The best are rich in fruit and extract coming from un-irrigated, low-yielding old vines. Manchuela is particularly important.

Bonarda is a variety that in Argentina produces very sound, complex dark-fruited reds from old vines. It is the same variety as Charbono found in California. There is no relationship with the Bonarda Piemontese from Italy.

Bourboulenc is a white grape widely planted throughout southern France. It is late ripening and retains very good acidity. If vinified correctly it is a very valuable blending component. If picked insufficiently ripe it is lean, dilute and tart.

Brancellao is a variety grown in Ribeira Sacra, in Spain, providing lightly coloured wine. It is used in blends for which it can provide additional backbone.

Bual is the Anglicised name for the native Boal variety of Madeira. The vine is also cultivated elsewhere in Portugal and Spain, in Galicia (refer to Doña Blanca). It has also been proven to be a member of the Malvasia group of varieties through DNA testing.

C

Cabernet Franc is the parent variety of Cabernet Sauvignon and as a single varietal is more successful in cooler areas, and notable in the Loire Valley. There are though good varietal wines produced in most of the world’s better known regions. It is also important as a component in Bordeaux style blends in many locations.

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the wine world’s greatest red grape varieties. Cab Sauv can be found in almost all wine regions. It is however tricky to find the right site with sufficient temperature and sunny conditions for optimum phenolic maturity. If insufficiently ripe it can show unpleasant green pepper aromas and flavours with hard under ripened tannins. In warmer sites flavours of chocolate and sometimes prune and raisons are unwanted characteristics. In its classic home in the Medoc, the combination of the maritime climate, warm even ripening conditions and finely drained gravel soils provide the ideal environment for great wines. Perfectly complementary in flavour and structure for ageing in small French oak, the flavours range from blackcurrant, cedar and dark cherry to fuller blackberry notes. Some excellent examples have consistently been produced in California, Tuscany, Western and South Australia, while Washington State, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Spain and South Africa offer much potential for the grape.

Caiño Blanco is a very rare Spanish white grape which can be a component in blends from Rias Baixas.

Caiño Tinto is a rare red variety cultivated in Ribeiro and Rias Baixas producing wines with marked acidity and a typically nervy character from these climes.

Callet is a good quality red grape native to Mallorca.

Cannonau - refer to Grenache.

Carignan is a variety which, particularly in the Midi, was long seen as no more than a bulk workhorse grape. However, the movement in both the Midi and in Spain, as Cariñena, to recover old vines and restrict yields for quality has the shown the potentially excellent results that can be achieved from it.  Fully ripened and from old vines the wines are intense, mineral and richly spicy and full of striking dark fruit. You may also find it as Samsó and Mazuelo in Spain. As well as Languedoc and Spain, the variety can be found in Provence and the southern Rhône, as Carignano in Sardinia and as Carignane in California. It is also planted in Australia.

Carignan Blanc is a very rare white variety. It is a mutation of Carignan Gris which is itself mutated from the red Carignan. Some very good wines are being produced in both Languedoc and Roussillon which include the variety to a greater or lesser degree.

Carignan Gris is a mutation of Carignan Noir. Some rare but good wine is made in the Roussillon.

Cariñena - refer to Carignan.

Carmenère is a red variety originating in Bordeaux although it is of particular significance now in Chile. The key to success is to restrict the vines yield when it cab then produce wines of attractive spicy, peppery, dark berry character.

Cayetana is a white grape grown in southern Spain in the Extremadura, Montilla-Morilles and Jerez where it is generally distilled for use in brandy. At best it makes lightly fruity, herb scented wines.

Cencibel - refer to Tempranillo.

Charbono - refer to Bonarda.

Chardonnay is a hugely popular grape variety across the worlds wine regions and one that has become a brand in its own right. It is very successful when vinified and aged in barrel and a range of wine making techniques enhance its depth and enrich its texture. An increasing number of wines are also being vinified without recourse to oak and generally offer good value. Its traditional home provides a range of styles from crisp and mineral Chablis to rich, full bodied examples from the Côte de Beaune but with great elegance and finesse too. Increasingly good wines come from the Maconnais, while the grape is generally less successful in the rest of the country. A handful of good examples are produced in the Rhône as Vin de Pays/IGP and a similar situation exists in Languedoc-Roussillon. Outside France there are very good and increasingly sophisticated examples from California, Oregon, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In South America good and well priced examples are produced in both Chile and Argentina. In Spain most examples are made in the north-east. The grape is also an important component in top sparkling wines, in particular in Champagne but also elsewhere.

Chenin Blanc is the grape that provides the best whites of the Loire Valley, particularly sweet wines from Anjou, Saumur and Touraine. Examples from the Coteaux du Layon, Bonnezeax and Quarts de Chaume tend to be richer than the edgy, nervy but superbly age worthy sweet examples from Vouvray and Montlouis. The variety is naturally high in acidity which in the Loire enables sparkling as well as dry and sweet styles to be made. Plantings are found across the globe but it is only really in South Africa that wines of a quality to stand alongside those from the Loire are being produced.

Cinsaut is a red variety can also be spelt Cinsault and has its origins in the Rhône Valley. It is also widely distributed throughout southern France in Languedoc Roussillon, Provence and the south of the Rhône. Soft and lightly aromatic it adds to winemakers blending options. It can be found in isolated outposts around the globe but it is most notably crossed with Pinot Noir in producing Pinotage, a variety that is notoriously difficult to produce balanced fruit flavours from.

Corvina is a red variety found in the Veneto in Italy and vinified to produce Valpolicella and the dried grape wine styles Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella.

Cot - refer to Malbec.

D

Dolcetto is a vibrant red variety, grown in Piedmont and characterised by its dark berry fruit, fresh acidity and soft tannins.

Doña Blanca is a good quality white grape largely found in north-western Spain and Portugal where it is known as Dona Branco. It is thick skinned so responds well in the maritime climate of Galicia but needs absolutely minimal skin contact before fermentation. Good wines are produced in Monterrei, Valdeorras and Bierzo. In Portugal on the island of Madeira it is known as Boal. Refer to Bual.

Dornfelder is a German red grape bred to produce good colour and retain good acidity. It responds reasonably well to ageing in oak and produces good concentrations of sugar during ripening. Also grown in England.

Durif is a red grape variety found in the USA, particularly in California, France, Australia and Israel. The wines are dark, inky and potentially quite tannic with hints of pepper and spice. Refer to Petite Sirah.

E

Encruzado is a red variety grown in the Dão region in Portugal. It produces good quality wines.

F

Favorita - refer to Vermentino.

Ferrón is a red variety found in the Ribeiro DO, in Spain’s Galicia region, where it can be a minor component in blends.

Friulano - refer to Sauvignon Vert.

Furmint is a white Hungarian grape, of very good quality. A major component of the great Tokaji sweet wines and also vinified to produce dry wines in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region.

G

Gamay is a red grape commonly found in Beaujolais where it produces wines which range from very ordinary, often ending up in Beaujolais Nouveau, to finely crafted and structured wines from village crus like Morgon and Fleurie. The variety is also found in Touraine where simple but often attractive fruit-driven styles are made. Outside France it can be found in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and in the Niagara Peninsula in Canada.

Garganega is a white Veneto grape most commonly associated with Soave. It is the best of the appellations varieties and can produce impressive wines from low yields. It is also used to make the dried grape style Recioto di Soave.

Garnacha - refer to Grenache.

Garnacha Blanca - refer to Grenache Blanc.

Garnacha Tintorera is an increasingly important red grape grown in central and south-eastern Spain achieving real quality in Alicante and in particular in the Almansa DO. The variety is a teinturier and goes by the name of Alicante Bouschet in France and California. Refer to Alicante Bouschet.

Gewürztraminer or Traminer can be a pungently aromatic variety particularly when grown in Alsace, where it is characterised by its floral aromas of lychee, spice and rose petal. A wide range of styles are produced in the region from dry to rich, sometimes botrytised late harvest sweet wines. The grape can also be found in the Alto Adige, in Italy and in Germany. Oregon is also notably successful for cultivating those varieties commonly found in Alsace. Other plantings may also be found in Chile, Canada and Australasia.

Godello is a good quality white grape grown in Galicia, in Spain, particularly in the Valdeorras and Monterrei DOs. There are also a handful of plots in nearby Bierzo in Castilla y León. The wines produced have good body and fresh acidity with hints of citrus, floral aromas and an underlying minerality in the best examples. Good barrel-fermented examples are also made in Galicia.

Graciano is a good quality red grape found in mainly Rioja where it is generally blended with Tempranillo. It is naturally low yielding and adds both structure and depth. An increasing number of very impressive wines, either varietal examples, or wines dominated by Graciano are also being produced.

Grenache is a key variety in the southern Rhône producing wines which may be soft, forward and accessible in the Côtes du Rhône as well as structured and age worthy in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It needs careful handling because of a tendency to easily oxidise. Complexity and age worthiness come from both low yields and old vines. Elsewhere in France it is grown in Provence, is particularly important in the Languedoc and especially the Roussillon for both light and fortified wines. In Spain too, as Garnacha, the variety produces exceptional reds, in particular in Priorat, Montsant and in the Gredos Mountains in Toledo. Other good examples also come from Empordá as well as Navarra and the grape is a constituent of Rioja. In Sardinia it is cultivated as Cannonau, with some good wines taking the IGT classification. Elsewhere there are very good examples in California, and in Australia where, as well as varietal examples, it is popular in GSM blends where it is combined with Shiraz and Mouvèdre. The grape is also grown successfully in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and South Africa.

Grenache Blanc is a white grape that’s often had a bad press mainly due to overproduction. When it is restricted in yield it can provide characterful wines with nutty, herb-spiced, citrusy hints and certainly weight from its naturally high potential alcohol. Works well in blends with Roussanne as well as other varieties throughout the southern Rhône and particularly the Roussillon. It is also occasionally vinified as a varietal. It is significant in Spain, as Garnacha Blanca, in regions to the south of the Pyrenees. Priorat, Terra Alta and Alella in Cataluña are all sources. The grape can also be found in Navarra and Aragon. It is permitted in Rioja but rarely used.

Gros Manseng is a white grape mainly used to make the dry whites of Jurançon and occasionally a part of the late harvest wines from that AOC. It produces wines with very aromatic and exotic fruit tones.

Grüner Veltliner is a white variety which as well as Riesling, is the other key grape planted in the great vineyards of the Wachau in Lower Austria. It is also found in other regions along the Danube. Generally fuller bodied than Riesling with a mix of mineral, citrus and peach flavours underpinned by a firm structure in the best examples. Elsewhere it is grown in the Czech Republic and Slovakia with small parcels in Hungary. The grape is now being cultivated in a number of US regions; Oregon, New York, Maryland, Napa Valley and the smaller AVAs of Clarksburg and the Santa Ynez Valley are additional sources. Gruner has also been planted in isolated locations in both Australia and New Zealand.

H

Hárslevelü is a white grape found in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region of Hungary and elsewhere producing both dry and sweet Tokaji wines and lightly aromatic dry whites. Blended with Furmint in Tokaj.

Hondarrabí Zuri is the white grape native to the Txakoli DOs. This is more commonly encountered than the Hondarribi Beltza and the wines can be good to very good with citrus, herbs and a floral component all showing themselves.

Hondarribí Beltza is a red grape variety grown in the three Txakoli appellations, in the Basque country. Marked by its fresh acidity, red fruit and leafy notes it can be very good and striking.

Huxelrebe is mainly found in Germany with small holdings in England also. It produces wines with a slightly grapey character, somewhat similar to Muscat. Will enable ripening of good sugar levels with balanced acidity and as a result can be used for late-harvest as well as drier styles.

I

Incrocio Manzoni - refer to Manzoni Bianco.

Inzolia is a good quality white grape grown in Sicily and used in the production of Marsala. Can also be found in Tuscany where it is called Ansonica.

J

Jaén is a red grape which is commonly used in making the Dão reds of Portugal. The variety is like the Spanish Mencia, which is almost certainly the same, characterised by its vibrant, at best complex dark, spicy berry fruit, fresh acidity and relatively soft supple tannin structure.

Juan García is a red grape found in Zamora in north-western Spain and an authorised variety in the recently established Arribes DO. The best examples are ripe and forward, offering a supple, soft structure with attractive cherry flavours and a little depth.

K

Kerner is an aromatic German crossing of Trollinger and Riesling. It is also grown in Austria and England where its late budding guards against spring frosts. It also ripens quite late which can be a problem in the coolest of climates. Kernling, a recent mutation of Kerner, tends to produce more pronounced fruit flavours at a similar ripeness but colder harvests in marginal climates still present a challenge.

Kernling - refer to Kerner.

L

Lado is a white grape variety which is a minor component in the white wines of Ribeiro in Galicia. It adds aromatic complexity and refreshing acidity.

Listán Blanca is a lightly herb scented white grape grown in the Canary Islands.

Listán Negra is a red grape, native to the Canary Islands making fresh, fruit-driven wines that should be drunk young.

Loureiro is a Portuguese variety that is both a component in Vinho Verde blends as well as providing subtly aromatic dry varietal whites.

M

Macabeo is one of northern Spain’s most important white grape varieties. As Viura it is widely planted in Rioja and it is found in north-west Spain as well. As well as in Rioja it has significant plantings in Cataluña and in particular in Penedès in the production of Cava. It may also be referred to as Macabeu and Subirat. It is extensively planted in the Languedoc and in the Roussillon where it additionally comes under the pseudonym Maccabeu.

Madeleine Angevine is an attractively flowery, lightly aromatic grape with a diverse parentage that grows well in cool climates. It produces good crisp dry wines with plenty of acidity and is well suited to the English climate. It also fares well in the western stretches of Washington State.

Malbec is one of the six red varieties permitted in a Bordeaux red blend, although it is rarely used nowadays. The two areas where it has enjoyed most success have been in south-west France, particularly in the appellation of Cahors and in Argentina where it is the most important red variety from a quality perspective with some very old vineyards. Also found in Chile, Australia and New Zealand as well as in the Loire Valley where as Cot, it produces generally soft fruity wines.

Malvar is the main native white grape of the Madrid region which adds dimension to wines blended with Airén. Also produces reasonable, albeit quite simple fruit driven wines when bottled as a varietal.

Malvasia is a widely used name for a range of related grape varieties planted mainly in Spain, Italy and Portugal. In Spain as well as being planted on the Iberian Peninsula, the variety can be found in both the Canary and Balearic Islands. The variety is responsible for the great Malmsey wines of Madeira and a number of very fine passito style wines are made in Italy. There are also plantings in California, Australia and Corsica.

Manto Negro is a red grape, indigenous to the Balearic Islands and widely planted in the Binissalem DO. Works well in blends with both Callet and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Manzoni Bianco is one of six different grapes of the Manzoni family originating in the Veneto in northern Italy and also just known as Incrocio Manzoni. It is a cross of Pinot Bianco and Riesling and is mainly found in the Veneto but there are isolated plantings elsewhere including Penedès.

Marsanne is a white variety of particular significance in the northern Rhône where it is a key component in the making of white Hermitage. A tiny amount of Vin de Paille is also made from the variety in that appellation. You will also find it in the blends of St Joseph and Crozes Hermitage. The resulting wines have a subtle, nutty as well as peachy character and in the best examples a rich honeyed quality with age. It can also be a component in white Côtes du Rhône blends and is widely planted in Languedoc-Roussillon. Outside France there are small plantings in in northern Spain, Switzerland and Washington State with the variety gaining importance in California. The Victorian winery Chateau Tahbilk in Australia has a substantial acreage of old Marsanne with some plots over 80 years old.

Marselan is a newly created red grape which is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Found mainly in the Languedoc, there are also plantings in Spain.

Mataro - refer to Mourvèdre.

Maturana Tinta is a rare red grape from Rioja. Experimental winemaking is producing characterful results.

Maturano Blanco is another rare grape from Rioja, a white with genuine promise.

Mazuelo - refer to Carignan.

Melon de Bourgogne is a white grape used in the making of Muscadet in the Loire Valley Pays Nantais area. The best examples are intense, crisp and gain additional weight from ageing on their lees, sur lie which may be included on some appellation labels. It is also grown in Oregon, Washington State and Ontario.

Mencía is an important red variety in north-west Spain and in particular Bierzo where some exceptional dark-fruited, very mineral wines are being produced, which are marked more by their acidity than their tannins. It is also planted in the nearby Galician DOs of Valdeorras and Ribeira Sacra. DNA fingerprinting has now established that it is the same variety as the Portuguese Jaen which is found in Dão.

Merlot is a variety which is similar in its extensive worldwide distribution to its Bordeaux counterpart, Cabernet Sauvignon. It is earlier ripening than Cabernet, thinner skinned with less tannin. Ripening is important because firstly, if under-ripe it can show a lean green character and secondly, it can easily over-ripen with more pruney flavours. When fully ripe though, wines are full of plum and berry flavours with plush tannins and in the best examples full of intensity. Finely structured Merlot based wines come from the Left Bank in Bordeaux, particularly from some of the best sites in Pomerol and St Emilion. Elsewhere in Europe good examples are made in Italy, particularly Tuscany and in Spain, mainly in the north-east. Elsewhere the variety is important in South Africa, Chile, Argentina, California, Australia and New Zealand.

Mersequera is a white grape found on Spain’s south eastern Mediterranean coast and a significant element of white blends in the Valencia DO.

Monastrell - refer to Mourvèdre.

Mondeuse Noire is a red variety with origins in the Savoie region of France. It can produce fresh, crisp wines with marked acidity, lots of character and dark cherry flavours. It is often blended with Pinot Noir, Gamay and Poulsard and is also cultivated in Argentina, Australia and California.

Montepulciano is a potentially good, vibrant red wines come from this grape widely grown inland from the Adriatic in central Italy in the Abruzzo and Marche regions, and can be found in other regions of central and southern Italy.

Moscatel is the name given to Muscat in Spain and Portugal (refer to Muscat). Most Spanish and Portuguese Moscatel is Muscat of Alexandria. Used to produce aromatic, dry, sweet and fortified examples.

Moscato - refer to Muscat.

Mourvèdre is a very late ripening, high quality grape planted in southern France and Spain as well as California and Australia where it is also referred to as Mataro. Although varietal examples are produced the grape is often a dominant variety in a blend. In Provence fine and structured wines are produced in Bandol. In the southern Rhône and in Languedoc-Roussillon it is usually part of a blend. Notably at Ch. De Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape the variety is the main component of their red in contrast to Grenache elsewhere in the appellation. In Spain some good to exceptional wines are being made on the south-central Mediterranean coast at Jumilla and Alicante. Good Rhône styles include the variety in both California and Australia including GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) blends.

Müller-Thurgau is a crossing of Riesling and Madeleine Royale (a parent of Madeleine Angevine). Despite its origins the variety rarely produces special wines, perhaps with the exception of North-East Italy. It was widely grown in New Zealand but much has been grubbed up and it is also being replaced in other cool climate areas like England.

Muscadelle is a white grape that tends to be a minor constituent of white Bordeaux both dry and sweet. It is also found in Bergerac and in the Monbazillac sweet wines can enjoy a larger proportion of the blend than is likely in Sauternes. It is also very successfully grown in north-east Victoria in Australia where it is used to produce late harvested Tokay.

Muscadet - refer to Melon de Bourgogne.

Muscat is a family of grapes coming in a surprising number of forms and different pseudonyms and there are three main white examples: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Ottonel. Black Muscat is a dark skinned grape that is mainly kept for table grapes although in California in the Central Valley it is used to produce late harvest sweet examples. The style of white wines ranges from dry to very sweet late-harvest wines and the classic characteristic of the variety is a piercing floral, grapey flavour, indeed the grape has a high level of flavour compounds very similar to red varieties. Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is grown in France, producing some dry whites in Languedoc but most notably a number of late-harvested and fortified styles in the Roussillon and in the Rhône Valley at Beaumes de Venise. In Greece it is used to make the sweet wines of Samos and in  Italy it appears in fresh and light Moscato d’Asti. There also variations with a pink tinge to the skin, in particular Australia with some very fine fortified examples made in northern Victoria. Also pink tinged are two very closely related varieties; Muscat Rose and Muscat Rouge à Petits Grains referred to in Italy as Moscato Giallo or Moscato Rosa. The Alsace examples can be made from Muscat Blanc and Rouge à Petits Grains as well as Muscat Ottonel, which is generally found elsewhere in eastern Europe. Muscat of Alexandria is widely distributed in Australia and South Africa, can also be found in Greece and Italy and is referred to as Moscatel in Spain and Portugal. In Spain it can be found in the south and south-east and on the Canary Islands. In Portugal it is notably found on the Setúbal Peninsula to the north of Lisbon.

N

Nebbiolo is Italy’s best red grape from Piedmont and one of the world’s great varieties. It is best known in the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. It can produce bottles of extraordinary fruit intensity and complexity as well as formidable tannins. Youthful examples are very restrained with extremely subtle dark berry fruit and a floral undercurrent. More approachable examples are also made under the Nebbiolo d’Alba and Langhe classifications and more wines are being aged in small oak rather the traditional much larger botti. Elsewhere in Piedmont the variety is used to make Ghemme and Gattinara and the cool climate styles from Carema. The grape is also found in the Valle d’Aosta and in Lombardy. The same quality has rarely been achieved outside Italy. Some decent examples have emerged from California’s Central Coast and the odd wine from Austrlia. The variety has also been cultivated in Mexico’s Baja California.

Negramoll is a red grape grown in the Canary Islands.

Négrette is a red grape from South-West France. It is a major or varietal component in the Côtes du Frontonnais. At its best produces fresh wines with lots of character and bright berry fruit.

Negroamaro is a red grape grown on the Puglian Salento peninsula in southern Italy. The wines are now better than they were with modern winemaking, less coarse and rustic. Successful examples are made as part of a blend or as single varietals.

Nerello Mascalese is a Sicilian red grape producing increasingly good wines from grapes grown on volcanic soils. It is successful either as a varietal or when blended, in particular with Nero d’Avola.

Nero d’Avola is considered by many observers to be Sicily’s best indigenous red variety. It is named after the city and commune of Avola in the south of the island and the variety was originally cultivated only in the southern tip. However plantings now spread throughout the island. The grape produces wines with rich dark, spicy berry fruit and the best have the structure to age well. Rarely seen outside Sicily, it is being cultivated in Mendocino County in California.

Nielluccio is a red grape from the island of Corsica with considerable importance there. It is the main component of the red wines of the Patrimonio appellation and must comprise 95% of a red blend and 75% of a rosé. The variety has also been shown to be the same as Sangiovese. Refer to Sangiovese.

O

Ortega is a white grape cross-bred from Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe. It has a floral, peachy quality and is favoured in cool climate viticulture for its early ripening qualities with good sugar levels. Although vineyard holdings are decreasing in Germany it is being newly planted in England.

P

Palomino is the grape responsible for the diverse and often great sherry style wines in Jerez. Away from this DO and wine style the wines tend to be somewhat less exciting.

Parellada is a native red grape of Somontano, in northern Spain.

Parraleta is a white grape cultivated at higher altitudes in Cataluña. As a dry wine it provides crisp fresh examples that should not be cellared. It is also one of the three traditional grapes of Cava sparkling wines.

Pedro Ximenez is a grape commonly found in the DOs of Malaga and Montilla-Morilles as well as in Jerez where some excellent fortified and very sweet wines are produced. At its richest it often makes an excellent accompaniment for vanilla ice cream, rather than to drink on its own.

Petit Manseng is a part of the Manseng (refer to Gros Manseng also) family of grapes which are known for the production of top quality white wines in the south-western French appellation of Jurançon. The Petit Manseng is the smaller and thicker skinned grape and is a key component in the great sweet wines of the AC. It is also grown in the Languedoc, in California, Virginia and in small in amounts in Australia.

Petit Verdot is a variety which generally tends to make up a small proportion of Bordeaux style blends, now in many different regions. There are also a small number of single variety examples which are showing real potential in places like the upper reaches of the Sierras de Malaga in southern Spain, the Napa Valley and elsewhere. It is planted as well in the southern hemisphere, in Chile, Argentina and in Australia. The wines show a mix of dark berry fruit and pencil shavings.

Petite Sirah is the name given to Durif grown in California. Indeed the variety is most significant in California with considerably more top quality examples being produced there than anywhere else across the wine world. Dark and spicy, the best examples have impressive depth and will cellar well. Refer to Durif.

Phoenix is a white German variety created at the Geiweilerhof Institute. It is a cross of Bacchus and a hybrid variety bred to increase flavour quality as well as provide better disease resistance. Mainly grown in Germany, there are small plantings in England and Wales.

Picapoll - refer to Picpoul Blanc.

Picpoul Blanc is a white grape found in the Languedoc where it is the constituent of the Picpoul de Pinet AC and in Cataluña, particularly the small DO of Pla de Bages, where it is generally part of a blend but varietal examples are made. It is also one of the permitted grape varieties in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Along with its Picpoul Noir counterpart.

Picpoul Noir - refer to Picpoul Blanc.

Pigato - refer to Vermentino.

Pinot Bianco - refer to Pinot Blanc.

Pinot Blanc is most commonly associated with Alsace where it is successful in blends and in sparkling Crémant d’Alsace as well as a single variety, albeit without the consistent class of the top grapes: Riesling, Tokay Pinot Gris and Gewuztraminer. It is also a major variety in north-east Italy in both the Alto Adige and Friuli. It is less important in the Veneto from a quality perspective but widely planted. Among other plantings there are good examples coming from Oregon, a few from California and the grape also emerges from Germany, Austria, Hungary and Canada.

Pinot Grigio - refer to Pinot Gris.

Pinot Gris is a variety which is in fact a mutant clone of Pinot Noir. Although a white grape the skins have a rose coloured hue and a bit of colour can often be found in Alsatian examples where the variety is best known, as Tokay Pinot Gris. The styles of wine produced range from dry and rich to unctuous sweet Sélection des Grains Nobles. The variety is also successfully cultivated in north-east Italy providing good quality in both the Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The most important area outside Europe is Oregon, in particular in the Willamette Valley where very successful examples are being produced. There are small plantings in California, Canada, and New Zealand Pinot Gris is more significant than that from Victoria in Australia.

Pinot Meunier is a red grape, the significant planting of which is in Champagne and it is an important component in many blends, particularly the non-vintage wines from big Champagne houses. Over 40% of the appellations vineyards are planted to the variety. To some extent this must be because the grape will bud earlier and ripen more reliably than Pinot Noir, ensuring a more reliable yield. This is an important consideration in a region with a distinctly marginal climate. Elsewhere there are limited plantings again almost exclusively for the production of sparkling wines.

Pinot Noir is the great red grape of Burgundy and in particular the Côte de Nuits, source of some of the world’s greatest reds. The grape is a difficult one to cultivate, producing a wide array of flavours depending on its terroir and while it is now widely planted elsewhere there are relatively few great alternatives being produced away from its traditional home. It would appear that Oregon, cooler sites in California, Tasmania and Victoria in Australia have shown the most potential. Elsewhere a handful of good examples have emerged from South Africa, Argentina, South and Western Australia and the variety can also be found in Chile, Italy, Germany, Spain, Slovenia and Austria. As well as reds, the variety is an important component in top quality Traditional Method sparkling wines.

Pinotage is a red grape regarded by many as South Africa’s leading variety. Indeed the vast majority of plantings are in South Africa in the Cape regions with only small plantings elsewhere notably in the USA, Canada, Israel and New Zealand. The grape was created in 1925 at Stellenbosch University and is a cross of Cinsaut and Pinotage. It can be surprisingly austere in spite of its parent varieties not showing such character and is difficult to vinify. Poorly made it can display chemical aromas of paint which come from a volatile ester, isoamyl acetate. The best wines of the last ten years have been a significant step forward generally.

Plantafina is a white grape found in the Valencia DO in Spain.

Poulsard is a red variety found in the Jura which produces very lightly coloured, potentially elegant red wines, some almost indiscernible from a rosé. The wines can have a little structure provided by quite marked natural acidity. On occasion part of a Vin de Paille blend along with Savagnin and Chardonnay.

Prieto Picudo is a characterful red grape from the north-west of Spain. It is a hardy variety and will grow successfully in cool conditions. Some very good examples have emerged from the recently created DO of Tierra de León.

Primitivo - refer to Zinfandel.

Prosecco is a white grape which is used to produce fresh, lightly grapey sparkling wines with the same name in the Veneto in Italy. The best are fresh and dry.

R

Riesling is a grape which is responsible for some of the world’s great white wines. Its origins are in the Rhine in Germany and it can be successfully cultivated and ripened in a range of climates, from the cool Mosel-Saar-Ruwer in Germany to the distinctly warmer Clare Valley in South Australia. A range of styles are produced from crisp, dry to intensely sweet late harvest wines often enriched by noble rot. Some of the finest medium and sweet German examples are very low in alcohol but with exceptional balance and finesse and with a very clear stamp of origin. Elsewhere some very good full bodied dry styles are made in Austria as well as in Australia. Good examples are also produced in the USA in California, Oregon, Washington State and New York State as well as Canada. In the latter two Riesling is also produced as Icewine. A small number of good examples are also produced in Spain, South Africa and Chile.

Rondo is a hybrid grape variety that has enjoyed some success in England. It originates in Germany where it is planted in the Rheinhessen region and can be found cultivated as far north as Denmark. The key is early ripening with good colour and sugar concentration. It is at its best in blends with other varieties.

Roussanne is a variety which has its origins in the Rhône Valley, producing wine of impressively high quality. It is successful both as a single variety and particularly in the northern Rhône blended with Marsanne. In Provence and in Languedoc-Roussillon some fine examples are produced. Outside France the best wines come from California and Washington State, although some California Roussanne has since been proven to be Viognier. A small number of very good examples are also produced in Australia and the grape can be found in northern Spain in Cataluña.

Roussette is a good quality white variety from Savoie which also goes under the name Altesse. The best sites in the region are planted on steep, free draining stony slopes and provide characterful, mineral scented wines with fresh acidity and subtle citrus and floral aromas.

Rufete is one of the red grapes native to the small Arribes DO on the Portuguese, Spanish border that makes attractive fruit driven berry and herb spiced wines.

Rülander - refer to Pinot Gris.

S

Sagrantino is a rare red grape from Umbria and grown mainly around the small town of Montefalco. It has the capability of producing good to exceptional dry reds and very good sweet wines. The variety is naturally high in flavour, tannin and acidity, providing all that’s necessary for age worthy and characterful wines which at best are full of earthy, dark fruit and hints of cinnamon. It is surprising that it hasn’t been adopted elsewhere as yet.

Samsó - refer to Carignan.

Sangiovese is a leading Italian variety, particularly grown in Tuscany in the production of Chianti Classico and an array of top quality reds under other classifications and regions. A wide range of styles are produced which range from fruit-driven to structured and age worthy. The top examples can be marked by firm tannins and pronounced acidity but also possess a beguiling dark cherry fruit intensity as well. The grape is additionally successful in Emilia-Romagna as well as Umbria. It can be found outside Italy in California, Washington State, Australia, Argentina, Chile and South Africa.

Sauvignon Blanc is a universally popular aromatic grape variety often with hints of raw blackcurrant, partly due to its high pyrazine content, that offers a wide range of aromas and flavours. These, range from fresh and nettley to herbaceous, grassy and with a marked gooseberry aroma. More restrained barrel-fermented examples have citrus and peachy qualities and when blended with Semillon in Bordeaux a subtle mineral character as well. That same mineral character can also be found in the best examples grown in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. The overt fruit-driven style is best established at Marlborough in New Zealand where skilful canopy management and different harvesting times have added to the array of flavours. Good fresh styles of Sauvignon can also be found in the cooler areas of Chile and South Africa. In Australia and California the wines tend to show more tropical fruit qualities. Small plantings can also be found in north-east Italy and in the north of Spain.

Sauvignon Vert is a white grape found in Chile, Slovenia and the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of north-east Italy where it is now known as Friulano, originally referred to as Tocai Friulano. This name change was as a result of confusion with the names of Tokay Pinot Gris in Alsace and Tokaji in the Tokaj-Hegyalja region of Hungary. Long planted in Chile it was originally mistaken for Sauvignon Blanc and although similarly susceptible to botrytis it is not related and has more subtle floral flavours and is generally less aromatic. As Friulano a small amount is cultivated in Argentina. It is also known as Sauvignonasse.

Sauvignonasse - refer to Sauvignon Vert.

Savagnin is a good quality white grape, from the small Jura region of eastern France encountered all too rarely. It can make excellent rich, dry and very mineral whites as a varietal and blends well with Chardonnay which is also cultivated in the area. Two special local wines are produced from the variety. Vin Jaune, a dry style aged under a protective film forming flor yeast and Vin de Paille, a late harvest wine produced from dried grapes in a similar manner to Marsanne in the north of the Rhône Valley.

Scheurebe is a German cross bred variety, Riesling and an undetermined wild variety, that is at its best in the vineyards of the Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Nahe regions. It can consistently produce rich and flavourful wines. It is also grown in Austria as Samling 88.

Schönburger is a white variety with a pink tinged skin producing attractive, fruity wines from early ripening grapes. As a result it is popular in cool climates and can be found in England, western Oregon, the west of Washington State as well as British Columbia and its native Germany.

Sémillon is one of the three components, along with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle that can be blended to make some of France’s great sweet whites, Sauternes and Barsac. It is also important in the making of dry white Bordeaux, notably the wines of Pessac-Léognan. The variety is cultivated in Bergerac and again contributes to fine sweet wine styles under the Monbazillac appellation. Outside France the best Sémillon comes from Australia, in the Hunter Valley where the style is very subtle and restrained with wines that require cellaring and in more opulent rich styles found in the Barosssa Valley and the Margaret River. Elsewhere good Sémillon comes from South Africa and there are small plantings in Washington State, where some Icewine is made, California, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand.

Sercial is a white variety grown on the island of Madeira and used to make its driest wine style using the same name, although a minimum of 85% of the grape must be included in the wine. The variety is late ripening and as a result provides wines with very marked acidity and great ageing potential. There are also plantings on the Portuguese mainland where the variety is referred to as Esgana or Esgana Cão.

Seyval Blanc among hybrid varieties is a good example. Some fine still and sparkling wines have been made in England. The grape achieves good ripeness and maturity with pleasant hints of apple and citrus in cool growing conditions. It is also successfully cultivated in Canada and the eastern States of America.

Shiraz - refer to Syrah.

Siegerrebe is a German white variety which ripens early and produces good sugar concentration and as a result is popular in England, Washington State and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Wines tend to have a marked aromatic character.

Silvaner is a white grape, widely grown in Alsace and Germany, with origins in Transylvania. The variety is naturally vigorous and can with unchecked yields produce somewhat dilute wines. With careful growing the wines can show considerable character and an intense mineral quality. In Germany the grape is at its best in Franken and can produce exceptional late harvest wines. Also very good wines may emerge in Alsace but these tend to be dry, there are no Vendanges Tardives or Sélection de Grains Noble examples. There are also small holdings in the variety’s home; Transylvania in Romania, Italy’s Alto Adige, Australia, Austria, Croatia, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Sousón is a minor red variety and a native of Spain’s Galician wine regions of Rias Baixas and Ribeiro.

Spätburgunder - refer to Pinot Noir.

Subirat - refer to Macabeo.

Sylvaner - refer to Silvaner.

Syrah is another great red grape, now widely grown around the world. Its origins are in south-eastern France. The style of wine is typically powerful and potentially very rich and concentrated with flavours ranging from perfumed dark berry fruits to more opulent almost chocolaty flavours. The great reds of the northern Rhône are dominated by the variety. It is also widespread in the south of the region more often playing a supporting role to Grenache. With the emergence of the so-called “cepage ameliorators” or improving varieties in Languedoc Roussillon the grape is widely planted now in the Midi. It can also be found in Provence and has been successfully blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Australia is also very important for the variety, where the wines are mostly labelled as Shiraz and grown in most wine regions from cool to warm climates. In California Syrah is now well accepted and widely planted. It is also becoming similarly successful in Washington State. In South Africa the wines have generally been termed Shiraz but Syrah is becoming more widespread on wine labels with more European, elegant styles being produced. The grape is also planted in Argentina and Chile. Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah or Durif which is widely planted in California but a completely different grape.

T

Tannat is a powerful and tannic red grape grown in France’s Basque country and most notable in the Madiran appellation. It tends to be blended rather than varietal bottled because of the potentially high and astringent tannin of the grape. The process of micro-oxygenation was developed here to help soften and balance the wines. It is also widely planted in Uruguay and there are small amounts now found on California’s Central Coast, in Argentina, Australia and Puglia in southern Italy.

Tempranillo is a Spanish red grape that is widely planted throughout the country but most notable in Rioja and Ribera del Duero where it is locally known as Tinto Fino. To produce wines of quality and character the grape is best suited to cultivation in the continental climates of Spain’s north-central vineyards. In both Rioja and Ribera del Duero, rich, powerful and concentrated wines are produced with a firm structure in Ribera. The key to the quality of the wines is a control of yield. Rioja that is light, dilute and lacking any intensity of flavour is still widely distributed. In Toro the variety is known as Tinta de Toro and comes from an old clone of the variety. Toro in fact has a considerable plantation of very old vines, many well over 100 years of age and the wines can be complex and concentrated but with more overt dark fruit character than the wines of Rioja or Ribera del Duero. In central and south eastern Spain it also is known as Cencibel. The grape is additionally grown in Portugal as Tinta Roriz in the Douro and Aragonês in the Alentejo. There are small plantings in the Roussillon and in Cataluña where the grape is known as Ull de Llebre. Good quality examples have now emerged from Argentina, Chile as well as Australia and the grape is also planted on California’s Central Coast along with the Umpqua Valley in Oregon.

Tempranillo Blanco is a rarely encountered white mutation of Tempranillo which is being experimentally grown and vinified with some real success in Rioja. Expect more from this grape in future.

Tinta Amarela is a Portuguese red grape that is widely cultivated throughout the country. Produces wines that are darkly coloured, full of extract and at their best offer rich blackberry fruit and with a herby, spicy character. Susceptible to rot it performs better in dry warm climates and is a major grape in the country’s Alentejo region where it is known as Trincadeira.

Tinta Barroca is a red grape that is grown and vinified in The Douro to produce both red table wines and Port. It is also grown in South Africa, mainly for fortified wines.

Tinta de Toro - refer to Tempranillo.

Tinta Negra Mole is the most widely planted variety on the island of Madeira producing generally moderate quality wines although the odd decent example can come from the variety.

Tinta Roriz - refer to Tempranillo.

Tinto Fino - refer to Tempranillo.

Tocai Friulano - refer to Sauvignon Vert.

Torrontés is an Argentine white grape which is grown in Spain using the same name mainly in the Ribeiro region as well as in the Canaries, Montilla-Morilles and Madrid. DNA testing in fact suggests there is no similarity between the two grapes and this is shown in their flavour profiles. In Ribeiro the Torrontés is regarded for the acidity it brings to a blend rather than its flavour. Torrontés in Argentina by contrast is both floral and richly aromatic, grown at altitude it retains a naturally fresh acidity. Small plantings can also be found in Chile.

Touriga Franca is a Portuguese red variety that is an important constituent of both Port and red Douro table wines. In flavour it is overshadowed by both Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional and is generally vinified as a part of a blend. Originally called Touriga Francesca.

Touriga Francesca - refer to Touriga Franca.

Touriga Nacional is arguably Portugal’s finest native red grape and very important in the Douro in the production of Port and top quality red table wines. Deeply coloured with real concentration and aromas of dark berries, damson and a hint of spicy pepper it has a very distinct flavour profile. It can be very good as a varietal and arguably better in a blend with Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and other varieties. It has also been planted by Yarra Yering in Victoria’s Yarra Valley in Australia.

Treixadura is a white grape of significant importance in Ribeiro in north-west Spain. It has crisp apple, citrus and mineral scented aromas and blends well with Albariño. It can also be found in blends in Rias Baixas and Ribeira Sacra.

Trepat is a red grape, a native of Cataluña and found in the DOs of Costers del Segre and Conca de Barberá. Generally makes crisp, light rosés.

Trincadeira - refer to Tinta Amarela.

Triomphe is a hybrid red grape which was first created in Alsace and originally known as Triomphe d’Alsace. It is not eligible to be cultivated there because of its hybrid parentage. It is planted in England, although not widely but has proved to be successful in red blends adding colour particularly.

Trousseau is a red grape mainly found in France’s Jura region. In marked contrast to the other red variety of the region, Poulsard; Trousseau provides wines that are big and structured, with often very firm tannins. At their best, they full of character, albeit quite austere, particularly young.

V

Verdejo is a fine quality white variety that seems perfectly suited to the continental climate of Castilla y León. Excellent citrus and herb scented examples have been produced both under the Rueda DO as well as Vinos de la Tierra and other regions in the north-west Spain.

Verdelho is a white grape, one of the top varieties of Madeira. The best examples have an intense citrus quality with an underlying honeyed richness. Some good, fruit-driven whites are made in the Hunter Valley and Cowra in New South Wales, Langhorne Creek in South Australia and the Swan Valley, which borders the capital Perth in Western Australia.

Verdicchio is a white grape found in the Adriatic region of Marche in Italy. The best are fresh, characterful and with an underlying mineral quality.

Verdil is a white grape found on the south eastern Mediterranean, Spanish coast in Valencia and Alicante.

Vermentino is an Italian white grape variety that is at its best when planted on the coastal regions of Tuscany and in Sardinia. The best examples are full of citrus-infused, herb-scented flavours. There are also plantings in Liguria, where the variety is known as Pigato and in Piedmont where it is called Favorita. Outside Italy there are plantings in Languedoc-Roussillon producing good results, in Patrimonio in Corsica and in the small appellation of Bellet in the hills behind Nice.

Vernaccia is a white grape that is cultivated across Italy but far and away the best wines are made in the small Tuscan appellation of Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

Vijariego is a native Spanish white grape grown in the east of Andalucia, mainly in the eastern provinces of Granada and Almeria, as well as in the Canaries. It is a variety that shows lots of citrus and herb-spiced character in its best renditions.

Viognier a white grape that a couple of decades ago was restricted almost entirely to the vineyards of Condrieu in the Northern Rhône valley and the small single Domaine of the region, Château Grillet. Much has changed and the variety is cultivated in a wide range of climates. Apart from a handful of examples from California the best wines still emerge from Condrieu. Classic aromas of peach, honey and spice are found in dry examples and in some excellent late-harvest wines also. Most should be drunk young but a few examples will stand some age. In France the southern Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon and to a lesser extent Provence are all additional sources. Outside France, in Spain, there are good examples in Cataluña and in Toledo. In North America and in addition to California good sources can be found in Washington as well as Oregon and the variety is also planted in Virginia and New York State. There are significant plantings in Chile, Argentina and also now a few in Uruguay. In Australia the variety is planted across a number of regions in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Viura - refer to Macabeo.

W

Weissburgunder - refer to Pinot Blanc.

X

Xarel.lo is an important white Spanish variety that is one of the three traditional grapes used to make Cava and only cultivated in Cataluña. It produces wines with a marked floral character.

Z

Zinfandel is now generally regarded as California’s own red variety. The key to the quality of the wines produced, which can be superb, are old bush vines and in this respect they share much with the great old vine reds produced in Spain and southern France. Tremendous examples can be found in a number of locations including the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Napa, Sierra Foothills and Paso Robles on the Central Coast. Elsewhere you can find the odd interesting example produced from vines grown in Western Australia, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa. Of particular recent interest are wines from southern Italy labelled Primitivo. DNA fingerprinting has proven them to be the same variety.

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