Know Your Grapes

Being that there are roughly between 5,000 and 10,000 Vitis Vinifera, that is to say wine producing grapes, to add them all would confuse even the most knowledgeable of us, so below you can find the major players. Some grape varieties in different countries and regions are under other names, take Tempranillo for example, in Spain alone apart from it’s original name it’s also called Tinta de Toro or Tinto Fino among others names. The tasting notes of each grape variety is a generalisation, to each person that variety will taste different and depending where and how the grape is grown, time of harvest etc. will depend on the style of wine.

Individually they make some amazing wines, blended together and the world of wine expands endlessly.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a white-wine grape from western France, now successfully grown in wine regions all over the world. While the grape may be more readily associated with the Loire Valley (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé), it is more likely to have originated from Bordeaux, where it is typically blended with Semillon.

Marlborough, at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island has rapidly developed the Sauvignon Blanc as one of the best in the world of wine. The intense and readily accessible flavour of a classic Marlborough has captured a vast market around the globe, from the United States and Canada to the UK and northern Europe, Australia and Japan. In 2015, Sauvignon Blanc accounted for around 85% of New Zealand’s wine.

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Muscat (Moscato in Italy, Moscatel in Spain and Portugal) is the name of one of the oldest and most widespread grape families in the world. The grapes we know today as Muscat – which are believed to have originated in the Middle East – have been used in winemaking since the times of the ancient Greeks.

As a general rule, Muscat prefers warm climates and thrives in a typical Mediterranean climate. The best examples come from Italy, France, Spain.

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Aside from holding the monopoly on white Burgundy, is the world’s most popular white-wine grape (and also one of the most widely planted). The key to the variety’s success is its flexibility; it responds well to a wide range of terroirs and winemaking styles.

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A green-skinned grape variety native to Galicia on the north Atlantic coast of Spain. It is best known as being the key grape variety in the Rias Baixas DO, where it makes plump white wines with peach, citrus and mineral characters that pair perfectly with the local seafood.

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The white wine from Argentina. It doesn’t represent just a single grape variety. Torrontes wines range in style from light and fresh to heady and intensely perfumed, often expressing spicy, soapy characters and aromas of white flowers.

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Riesling may well be the world’s finest white-wine grape variety. Although now grown in many New World regions, Riesling’s spiritual home is western Germany, on steep slate-lined slopes overlooking the rivers Rhine and Mosel.

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Verdejo is the aromatic grape variety behind the crisp white wines of Rueda in central Spain. It is by far the most planted variety in this part of the country. Full-bodied Verdejo wines are held in high regard, displaying herbaceous, nutty characters with balanced acidity and some cellaring potential.

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Gewurztraminer is a pink-skinned grape variety that produces some of the world’s most distinctive aromatic wines. Its perfumed style is somewhat polarizing; fans adore its intense floral scent and sweet-spice flavours.

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Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is a versatile white wine variety known for its high acidity and ageing potential. It has been grown in France (Loire Valley) for nearly 1300 years, although today roughly one-third of all Chenin Blanc is produced in South Africa. Botrytized Chenin Blancs from the Loire are among the world’s finest sweet wines.

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Pinot Grigio

More than just the Italian name for Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio is an icon of northern Italian white wine (particularly in Veneto). It flies the flag for accessible, crisp, refreshing wines, and is enjoying new-found popularity in around the world. It has adapted nicely to the Californian climate and is producing some very nice refreshing wine.

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Viognier’s apricots and steel aroma – is the flagship grape of northern Rhône whites. Brought back from the brink of extinction only in the past few decades.
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