Grape Guide - Introduction
|Wine grape varieties represent only a small portion of
the more than 600 kinds of grapes. Each grape variety has its own unique
combination of characteristics including colour, size, skin thickness,
acidity, yield per vine and flavours. Only a few of there grape varieties
are suited to produce fine quality wine. While many grape varieties are
used to produce wines, only a few grapes have distinguished themselves
as being particulary suited for the production of fine wine. These 'noble
grape varieties' must still be matched with the right micro-climate and
winemaking techniques in order to live up to their potential.
Grape Variety - RieslingClick
on arrows to Expand
You have selected the Riesling variety
|Riesling is the only prominent variety to have not originated
in France. Germany is the traditional home of Riesling where it is usually
made into a sweet wine. In Australia it is generally made to a dry wine.
Riesling is an aromatic variety and boasts a powerful fruit driven nose.
When affected by botrytis Riesling can produce luscious desert wines.
Young Rieslings will often have a green tinge to the usual light yellow
and straw. Aged Rieslings will present as deeper yellows and slightly
golden. Riesling is often described as steely or flinty which is associated
with this varieties firm crisp acid finish and the often strongly defined
flavours. The wines are normally light to medium bodied and display
it's primary fruit characters well. Riesling is made dry to semi sweet
and blends well with the floral variety Traminer.
Grape Variety - Traminer
You have selected the Traminer variety
|Gewurtztraminer is this variety's full name but it is
more commonly called Traminer in Australia. Traminer is an aromatic wine
and one of the more memorable varieties with its pungent floral fragrances.
Traminer is an early drinking wine with a crisp acid finish.
Traminer has some pinkish and purple colour in the grapes, however
the wines are white. Traminer is straw to light gold in colour with
a sparkle finish.
Intense floral scents of violets, rose, lavender and perfume are common
and may well be overpowering to some. Lychee, lime, passionfruit and
tropical notes will show through in warmer climates. This variety has
a crisp acid finish and presents very clean to the palate.
Grape Variety - Frontignac
You have selected the Frontignac variety
|'Muscat a petit grains' is this varietys official
name and it means Muscat with little berries. Frontignan is the common
European name for this floral variety producing intensely perfumed wines.
Frontignac is a red grape of low colour intensity that produces white
wines in sweet or dry styles. Frontignac is similar to Traminer and is
an aromatic wine.
The colour of this wine may vary from light gold to deeper yellows
and golds due to this varieties genetic instability. Mutations are common.
Similar to Traminer, these wines are strongly perfumed and fragrant
wines and deliver intense floral, perfume, rose water, and spice. The
mouth feel will vary with the style produced (sweet or dry) however
the overwhelming sensations will be those of the perfume and florals.
Grape Variety - Sauvignon Blanc
You have selected the Sauvignon Blanc variety
|Of French origin and is grown extensively in the Bordeaux
region where it is blended with Semillon and the upper Loire valley where
it is made as a varietal wine. New Zealand produces some excellent Sauvignon
Blancs. Wines labeled fume blanc are Sauvignon Blanc wines that have seen
some oak contact to impart smokey flavours. Quality unoaked Sauvignon
Blancs will display smokey qualities without any oak treatment. Sauvignon
Blancs require a strong acid finish and are best grown in cool to cold
climates. Some Australian Sauvignon Blanc, grown in warmer areas, tends
to be flat and lack fruit qualities.
Often near-colourless wines with colours of light straw to light yellow.
Young wines may have green tinge and aged wines can present deep yellow
and golden. Sauvignon Blanc can present a huge range of flavours from
sour green fruits of apples, pears and gooseberries through to exotics
tropical fruits of melon, mango and blackcurrant. They may also, in
very cool climates, produce somewhat more disagreeable notes of cats
pee, human sweat.
Grape Variety - Chardonnay
You have selected the Chardonnay variety
|Chardonnay is of French origin and is the principle white
wine of Burgundy. In the Champagne area it is 100% of wines labelled blanc
de blanc. Chardonnay is viticulturally and oenologically versatile and
is grown with success in most viticultural areas under a variety of climatic
conditions and can be made sparkling or still, with wood ageing or without
and is blended with semillon in Australia at times. Chardonnay was the
most sought after white grape through the late 1980's and 1990's.
This versatile variety will produce wines from medium to full bodied.
"Drink-now" styles will display peach, apricot, melon, fig,
honey, lemon and limes. Barrel fermented wines will have a further dimension
added of vanilla, toast, lanolin, coconut, caramel, smoky, caramel,
cheesy, yeast, bread, vegemite, buttery and butterscotch.
Grape Variety - Verdelho
You have selected the Verdelho variety
|Verdelho is a Portuguese variety, grown extensively on
the Island of Madeira and in the Douro Valley where it is known as Gouveio
and is mainly made into fortified wine (Douro Port). There are only small
plantings in Australia with as little as 40ha in each of Western Australia,
South Australia and New South Wales. Verdelho is made into dry white table
wines in Australia and has been incorrectly called Madeira at times.
From cool to warm climates the varietal character will change from
herbaceous, grassy and spice through to more tropical notes of pineapple,
melon, tropical fruits, guava, honeysuckle and fruit salad. A very refreshing
wine well suited to the Australian outdoor lifestyle.
Grape Variety - Semillon
You have selected the Semillon variety
|Semillon has been seen as somewhat dimensionless to most
parts of the world and is usually blended. In Australia it is made as
a varietal dry white table wine with fabulous success producing fine wines
with ageing potential. The Hunter Valley, where it was incorrectly called
Riesling for many years, produces some of our countrys best Semillons.
These wines are rarely oaked and display the distinctive notes of toast
and honey with age.
Lemon, limes and honey are common in dry styles. Semillon will display
wood character of toast without being oaked and as they age this toasty
character will grow. Some will show a mineral or steely character with
tight acid structure. Botrytis-affected fruits will produce exotic luscious
wines of ripe peach, apricot and honey. With barrel ageing vanilla,
caramel, spicy bacon, coconut, cedar and spice.
Grape Variety - Marsanne
You have selected the Marsanne variety
|This grape is a little used variety grown in the northern
Rhone river valley to make white versions of Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph.
Its blending partner is a grape named Rousanne. It makes wines that are
medium dry, full bodied and very rich in flavor with notes of spice and
Australia is now producing some wines that incorporate Marsanne into
their blends, a fine example is Rutherglens'.
Grape Variety - Pinot Gris
You have selected the Pinot Gris variety
|The Pinot Gris grape variety is known as Pinot Grigio in Italy and Ruländer
in Germany. In general it produces wines of average quality except in
the Alsace region of France. It makes wines that are medium bodied, well
balanced and with nice floral aromas.
Australia is now producing some wines that use Pinot Gris into their
blends and varietals, a fine example is Yellow Tail in this present
Grape Variety - Gewurztraminer
You have selected the Gewurztraminer variety
|This grape variety is noted for it floral fragrance and
its spicy flavors. It is grown most successfully in France (especially
Alsace), the United States (California, Oregon, Washington), Germany and
New Zealand - and Australia . It does better in cool climates that in
It is often paired with spicy foods and can be made in styles that
range from completely dry to semi-dry. Gewurztraminer can also be made
in a late harvest dessert wine style that is delicious. This is especially
true in Alsace.
Grape Variety - Chenin Blanc
You have selected the Chenin Blanc variety
|French in origin and grown extensively in the Loire Valley and is used
to produce both still and sparkling wines. The largest plantings of Chenin
Blanc are in South Africa (30,000ha) followed by California. In Australia,
Chenin Blanc was incorrectly called Semillon in Western Australia and
Albillo Sherry in South Australia.
Young dry styles can show green tart apples and pears. General descriptors
are herbaceous, herbal, and grassy through to more exotic tropicals
of passionfruit with more developed notes of almonds and honey. A mineral
metallic hardness can be produced on the palate with firm tight acidity
while at the same time honey. This is often referred to as a paradox.
Nuttiness is not uncommon. Semi-sweet and sweet styles will be more
honeyed but still retain a tight acid structure.
Grape Variety - Colombard
You have selected the Colombard variety
|Colombard (also known as French Colombard) makes simple,
fresh white wines that are high in acid. The variety will tolerate warm
growing regions. Colombard is the second most planted grape in California
and is often blended into generic white wines. Colombard is a heavy producer
and has till recently been used in Australian wines also.
Grape Variety - Ugni Blanc
You have selected the Ugni Blanc variety
|The Trebbiano grape is also known as Ugni Blanc. It is
planted in France, Italy and Australia and is used for making wines as
well as brandy. It's wines are usually dry and high in acid. As Ugni Blanc, it is the primary grape used in producing Cognac.
Grape Variety - Muller-Thurgau
You have selected the Muller-Thurgau variety
|Wine from the Muller-Thurgau is usually dry to semi-dry
and is lightly aromatic. Muller-Thurgau is a variety that was created
in the late 19th century as a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner. It
is early maturing and can grow well in cool climates.
Muller-Thurgau is grown primarily in Germany (where it is planted more
than any other grape), Austria, New Zealand are alsp planters of this
Grape Variety - Viognier
You have selected the Viognier variety
|The Viognier grape was once a little used variety best
known in Condrieu, in the northern Rhone Valley of southwestern France.
It is experiencing a resurgence in popularity as more of it is being planted
in California, Australia and elsewhere in the world. It makes fruity wines
of medium body.
Stone fruit aromas (peach and apricot) are often found in wines made
from Viognier along with a bit of spice. Depending on the producer,
the wine can range from exquisite to ordinary. Also, depending on the
producer's style, the wine matches well with 'Asian Infusion' dishes
as well as many foods that are often served with Chardonnay.
Grape Variety - Merlot
You have selected the Merlot variety
|Merlot is the principle red variety of Bordeaux. Historically,
in Australia, Merlot has not been widely planted as it has shown to have
an unreliable fruit set in contrast to France, Italy and Eastern Europe.
Merlot is increasing in popularity and this is attributed to this variety's
ability to taste sweet even when fermented to dry. This attribute is also
why Merlot is a good blender and is often used to soften wines. Merlot
is regularly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to fill its middle palate
Merlot presents the palate with an abundance of fruit flavours. Moderate
silky tannins further compliment this versatile variety that is often
blended with cabernet sauvignon. Less ripe fruits may show vegetal flavours
of green beans and asparagus. Merlot "oaks" well and is gaining
popularity as a varietal wine that offers a fresh exciting mouth feel.
Grape Variety - Grenache
You have selected the Grenache variety
|Widely grown in Spain, most likely the place of origin,
and the Rhone Valley in France where it produces many excellent blends
with Shiraz. In the 1960's and early 70's there were more than 7000ha
planted and this has decreased to approximately two thirds this level.
Grenache is a variety that has been around in winemaking for a long time
and produces rosè, dry reds and tawny ports and used in many blends
but rarely receives any credit on the label.
Grenache is a variety that needs to be well balanced in the vineyard
and will produce markedly different wines from district to district
or even within a district. Nose and mouth feel will vary markedly depending
on the style. Fruity rosè, light reds showing strawberry and
raspberry, moderately tannic wines with well integrated oak notes and
spice to quite large tannic wines of chocolate, tar, licorice and sweet
Grape Variety - Shiraz / Syrah
You have selected the Shiraz / Syrah variety
|Shiraz is the highly regarded variety of the Hermitage
and northern Rhone regions of France. In Australia it is the principle
red variety used for the production of fortified and dry red table wines.
Shiraz is one of the noblest varieties and will age majestically for many
years. While Shiraz is used to produce many average wines it can produce
some of the worlds finest deepest darkest reds with intense flavours
and excellent longevity.
An intense black grape producing a variety wines from medium red through
to rich black red. Young wines may exhibit a purplish colour that diminishes
with ageing. Australian Shiraz is usually medium to full-bodied wines
that offer a great deal to the palate. The abundance of fruit sensations
provides a perceived sweetness, which is balanced by often gripping
tannins. The best Shiraz produces full wines of deep dark colour, full
of chocolate, licorice and fruit with hot spice and warm alcohol complimented
by firm but fine tannins.
Grape Variety - Cabernet Sauvignon
You have selected the Cabernet Sauvignon variety
|Often regarded as the world's premium red variety as
it is able to grow under a large variety of conditions and still retain
its varietal characteristics. Grown extensively in Médoc, the heart
of Bordeaux, and all winegrowing regions of the world. Cabernet sauvignon
is often blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Ageing and oak treatment
will generally see the primary fruit qualities change to that of preserved
fruits. Tannins are firm and gripping when young and can provide a strong
puckering sensation that diminishes with age to give a fine grain full
Grape Variety - Chambourcin
You have selected the Chambourcin variety
|Chambourcin is a French/American hybrid. This variety is of unknown
parentage and can produce wines of light to medium body. Chambourcin is
strongly resistant to fungal disease and is grown successfully in the
Port Macquarie and Hunter Valley regions of Australia. Chambourcin is
used as a blender in many wines but seldom receives any credit on the
Chambourcin will often have an intense purple colour that may persist
beyond youth. The generous fruit flavours and sugar content of this
early ripening variety has seen its blending with many wines. These
wines will generally be medium in body and have a good length of palate.
Chambourcin will oak and age reasonably well.
Grape Variety - Pinot Noir
You have selected the Pinot Noir variety
|Pinot Noir is a French variety predominantly from Burgundy
and is used in the making of fine sparkling wine and light dry red table
wine. Pinot Noir is difficult to grow, ripen and produce wine from as
it is extremely sensitive to variations in environmental factors, from
those that are considered to be ideal. Pinot Noir could be considered
to be 'temperamental'.
As a sparkling wine, it is clear to slightly pinkish. Pinot Noir will
also produce roses and dry wines of light to medium depth reds. Red
fruits, strawberry, raspberry, plum and cherry are typical. Medium-bodied
wines will show soft tannins and give a generous mouth feel.
Grape Variety - Cabernet Franc
You have selected the Cabernet Franc variety
|A French variety which has the same, if not greater,
status as Cabernet Sauvignon and is grown extensively in Bordeaux and
Northern Italy. Cabernet Franc is grown in most viticultural areas in
Australia and is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Whereas Cabernet Sauvignon will generally display a lack of middle
palate, Cabernet Franc does not. The blend of earthy and generous fruit
notes is complemented further by this wines usual full soft tannin and
overall soft mouth feel.
Grape Variety - Durif
You have selected the Durif variety
|The Durif grape was developed by Dr. Durif, a French
nurseryman living in the south of France in the late 1800's. He created
this new variety by crossing the Syrah grape with the Peloursin variety.
His new variety was resistant to a plant disease called Powdery Mildew.
However, the new variety was more likely to suffer from rot due to the
very tight bunches that Durif formed. That meant it did not grow well
in its native climate of the Rhone Valley of France. The Durif performed
much better in the sunnier and less rainy climate of California where
the grape was eventually planted.
The wines made from Durif are usually firm, full flavored wines rich
in tannin and often with an unexpected degree of acidity. The wines
often have 'black pepper' overtones and sometimes have an 'herbal' or
'green' character. Depending on the style that the winemaker choses,
the wines can vary from soft and short lived to very robust (sometimes
'over-the-top' ) and able to age for a decade or longer. Durif wines
are almost always better when served with foods such as roast beef,
stews and full-flavored, mature cheeses rather than as a cocktail wine.
This wide variation of styles may be a contributing factor to the lack
of acceptance by many consumers. A wine drinker that tries a Durif and
likes it may be put off when he later purchases another brand and finds
a completely different and unacceptable style (at least unacceptable
to that consumer ). Most wine consumers like wines that are 'reliable'
in terms of delivering a fairly consistent style for thier money.
Grape Variety - Malbec
You have selected the Malbec variety
|Malbec is one of the six grape varieties approved for
making red wines in the Bordeaux region of France. In Bordeaux, Malbec
is used like a chef would use a spice. Malbec is blended with other wines
but it makes up a very small percentage of the blend. It is being grown
and included less every year in the Bordeaux region.
On the other hand, Malbec has found a new home and a new following
in the wines of Argentina. Some of the best Malbec's can be described
as dry, mouthfilling and sumptuous; but the best ones are hard to find.
Most Malbec's you are likely to encounter are good but not great.
Elsewhere, Malbec is planted in small amounts. Malbec is usually included
in plantings and blends because of its background in Bordeaux. It is
a thin skinned grape that needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet
Sauvignon or Merlot to mature.
Grape Variety - Nebbiolo
You have selected the Nebbiolo variety
|Nebbiolo is an Italian red grape known for its success
in the Piedmont region where it is used to make Barbaresco and Barolo.
These wines are full flavored and can age well. Nebbiolo is not a significant
factor in other growing areas, but saying that it is emerging now in Australia.
Grape Variety - Carmenere
You have selected the Carmenere variety
|The Carmenere grape variety was once heavily planted
in the Bordeaux region of southwestern France . This variety is one of
the six varieties that are allowed for use in making red wines in Bordeaux.
Because of problems ripening the crop each year, Carmenere is now almost
impossible to find in Bordeaux.
Today, it is most used in Chile where it was imported in 1850. It was
originally mistaken for Merlot. Carmenere is a good blending grape It's
wines are very soft and mellow and do not age well. In recent years,
many Chilean wineries have bottled Carmenere by itself, and have recieved
many accolades in recent years.
Grape Variety - Tempranillo
You have selected the Tempranillo variety
|The Tempranillo grape variety is only grown on the Iberian
peninsula in Spain and Portugal. It is referred to by many different names
in various parts of Spain and as Tinta Roriz in the Douro river area of
In Spain Tempranillo is the most important red variety. It is the major
grape in Rioja red wines. In the wines from Rioja, Tempranillo makes
wines that are medium bodied and high in acid with dark colors and flavors
of plum and black currants.
Grape Variety - Mourvedre
You have selected the Mourvedre variety
|The Mourvedre is a late ripening red grape variety that
is widely planted along the French and Spanish coasts of the Mediterranean
Sea. It is used in the Rhone river valley of France in blends of Cotes
du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape.
Mourvedre performs well in warmer growing areas and well drained (even
stony) soils. Its wines are medium bodied, deeply coloured and full of
fruit (cherry and berries). It is now being utilised in Australia , mainly
in blends with Shiraz. It can improve for up to 10 years when stored properly.
Grape Variety - Sangiovese
You have selected the Sangiovese variety
|Sangiovese is the primary grape used in Northern Italy
in the region of Tuscany to make Chianti and also for Brunello di Montalcino.
Sangiovese produces wines that are spicy, with good acid levels, smooth
texture and medium body. In the right climates and with controlled yields,
Sangiovese can be made into very structured and full bodied wines. It
is usually blended with other grapes for best results and in northern
Italy is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon in the 'Super Tuscan' blends.
Sangiovese is experiencing increased interest and plantings in California
and elsewhere. Because of its ability to create smoother wines with
acid levels that pair well with many foods, a great deal of experimentation
is taking place with it as a blending agent with several red varieties.
Grape Variety - Cinsault
You have selected the Cinsault variety
|Cinsault is a very old grape variety grown in the south
of France. It prefers well drained soil on sunny hillsides and can withstand
very hot environments. Cinsault is an aggressive grower and produces a
large crop of large sweet berries.
The Cinsault grape makes fairly simple wines that are used for blending
with other grapes such as Grenache. Cinsault is one of the parent grapes
(along with Pinot Noir) for the Pinotage variety which was developed
in South Africa.
Grape Variety - Pinot Meunier
You have selected the Pinot Meunier variety
|The most widely planted grape in Champagne, Pinot Meunier
is often used to add complexity to the Cuvee. In much of the Champagne
made and consumed locally (smaller lesser known house and brands) Pinot
Meunier can be up to 100% of the Cuvee.
Grape Variety - Pinotage
You have selected the Pinotage variety
|South Africa's cloning of Cinsault and Pinot Noir has
yielded a wine of good distinction and friendly fruit. You can consider
the wine the Zinfandel of South Africa. Pinotage is also successfully
grown in New Zealand and other parts of the world.
Grape Variety - Primitivo
You have selected the Primitivo variety
|Primitivo is the Italian name for the grape Americans
call Zinfandel. Its origin is mysterious; one theory has it originating
in eastern Europe as the Dalmatian variety Plavac Mali and brought to
California as early as 1834. Despite the name, the Primitivo vines planted
today in Italys Apulia are almost certainly descendants of a reverse
migration from California to Europe. Thanks to its popularity as White
Zinfandel, this is Californias most planted grape. The white
(actually rosé) version is usually a light, slightly sweet wine
appropriate for aperitifs and picnic foods. As a dry red or even late
harvest dessert wine Zinfandel/Primitivo provides robust grapey aromas
and flavors reminiscent of red berries and jam. Moderate to heavy tannins
and high alcohol allow it to age fairly well.
Grape Variety - Touriga Nacional
You have selected the Touriga Nacional variety
|One of the primary grapes of great Port, it also appears
as very good dry red wine. Touriga Francesa is a separate grape variety,
but equally as important and respected.
Grape Variety - Gamay
You have selected the Gamay variety
|Outside of the confines of Beaujolais, France, where
in the top crus (Brouilly, Fleurie, et al) it can be rich, succulent and
capable of aging ten years or more, Gamay makes a pleasant, simple and
Grape Variety - Petit Verdot
You have selected the Petit Verdot variety
|A minor Bordeaux grape, but one by which many first-growth
producers swear by. It is lean and leggy, with a good long time required
for maturity. .