Glossary of Grapes
Agiorgitiko Greek for St George and a characterful variety widely planted on the Peloponnese. The only grape variety used for Nemea which can be long-lived.
Aglianico Late ripening, southern Italy red grape of real importance and considerable potential. Ageworthy with a noble structure, its smoky, minerally, berry-fruited character gains greater complexity and refined texture with keeping. The best wines come from Campania ( Taurasi and various IGTs) and to some extent Basilicata (Aglianico del Vulture) and Puglia but don’t expect greatness from the increasing amounts of inexpensive Aglianico now appearing from the same regions.
Airén 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.
Albana White variety responsible for mostly nondescript Albana di Romagna DOCG. Much better as a sweet wine produced from dried grapes in passito versions.
Albarín A relatively rare white grape grown in northern Asturias in 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. At its best contributes to wines of real character.
Albariño 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. A handful of examples are appearing elsewhere including California.
Albillo 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.
Aleatico Italian variety found in Puglia, Lazio and southern Tuscany usually vinified as a perfumed sweet red.
Alfrocheiro Preto Portuguese variety most likely to be encountered in Dão but planted in Bairrada and further south. Best used to add colour and complexity to a blend but has also recently been produced varietally.
Alicante Bouschet Characterful red-fleshed teinturier crossing (that claims Grenache as a parent) once heavily planted in southern France. Though more often used as a blending grape decent varietal examples are made in Portugal’s Alentejo, Central Italy (especially Tuscany or Emilia) and California. It goes by the name of Garnacha Tintorera in Spain. See Garnacha Tintorera.
Aligoté Decent examples of Aligoté can be found the length and breadth of Burgundy but relatively few have the verve and subtle spice (without green or hard edges) that make it interesting.
Altesse see Roussette Alvarinho see Albariño Ansonica see Inzolia Aragonês see Tempranillo
Antão Vaz White portuguese variety increasingly used in the Alentejo, both varietally and in blends.
Arinto One of Portugal’s few native white grapes of substantially proven quality. Its good acidity and citrusy fruit form the basis of many of the better whites in southern Portugal.
Arneis Piedmont’s leading white grape for dry whites is starting to make an impression in California and Australia. Light, dry but rather enticing perfumed examples generally need to be drunk very young; lightly oaked versions will keep a little longer but aren’t necessarily superior.
Assyrtiko/Asyrtiko Greek white grape of good acidity and fruit with the potential for wines of good structure and minerality. Of Santorini orgins but increasingly widely planted.
Auxerrois A white variety of significant importance 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.
Bacchus Not a noble variety as perhaps the name deserves but a German crossing bred for high sugar levels. Some of the best examples of herbal and exotic whites are produced by English wine growers but only when the grapes are fully ripe.
Baga The grape of Portugal’s Bairrada region. Potentially a bruiser but when fully ripe from modest yielding vines it produces wines of great character if not seductive charm. Its distinctive earth, coffee, plum and berry fruit character is allied to depth and richness with age. In decline in the neighbouring Dão region where it is less suited.
Barbera Marvellous Piedmont grape which comes in any number of styles and quality levels. The greatest acclaim comes for rich, modern oaked-aged versions but some unoaked versions can also be stunning. There are many good examples as both Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti and occasionally convincing versions from Emilia. Simple, supple, fruity, quaffing Barbera can be good too. Once important in California, this is where the next best examples can be found; Australia also makes adequate versions while potential also exists in Argentina.
Bastardo A name that can rarely be used to describe the contents of a bottle if speaking varietally as this Portuguese grape is usually found only as minor component in a blend in Dão or for Port. One and the same as Trousseau in France’s Jura.
Bical One of the best native Portuguese varieties for dry whites though that’s not saying much. Good body, aroma and acidity are possible if rarely achieved. Luis Pato’s single vineyard Vinha Formal seems likely to realise the limits of what is possible. Also made sparkling.
Blaufränkisch Important red variety in Austria’s Burgenland where it is often blended with other varieties to moderate its relatively high acidity and tannin. Of minor importance in Washington State and Germany where it is known as Lemberger. One and the same as Hungary’s Kékfrankos.
Boal Madeira’s Boal or Bual is one of the noble varieties giving dark coloured wines of spicy dried fruits intensity. The resulting style is typically sweeter than Verdelho but less rich if more refined than Malvasia. It is also grown in north-west Spain and northern Portugal. See Doña Blanca.
Bobal Widely planted red variety in central Spain capable of producing concentrated smoky, black- fruited reds. Some powerful reds, rich in fruit and extract, from unirrigated, low-yielding old vine fruit are starting to emerge, in particular from Manchuela.
Bonarda In Italy what is called Bonarda is most important in Oltrepò Pavese and Colli Piacentini (as Croatina). In the latter, it can be blend with Barbera for a characterful red, Gutturnio. Argentina’s Bonarda is not related but from old vines complex, aromatic, supple reds can be produced. This same variety is referred to as Charbono in California.
Bourboulenc White grape widely planted throughout southern France. It is late ripening and retains very good acidity. If vinified correctly it is a very valueable blending component. If picked insufficiently ripe it is lean, dilute and tart.
Brachetto Unusual Piedmontese variety that has obtained DOCG status in Brachetto d’Acqui. Often it is medium-dry and either frizzante or fully sparkling but with a wonderful, grapey perfume and flavour if drunk young and fresh from a producer like Braida.
Brancellao Variety grown in Ribeira Sacra in Spain, providing lightly coloured wine. It is always a part of a blend for which it can provide additional backbone.
Bual see Boal.
Cabernet Franc Parent variety of the more famous Cabernet Sauvignon it is more successful in cooler soils. Only in the Anjou and Touraine in the Loire Valley does it thrive as a varietal as despite its importance on Bordeaux’s Right Bank it is almost invariably blended with Merlot and some Cabernet Sauvignon. Its importance as a component in Bordeaux style blends both at home and around the world is undeniable. Though it can emulate the flavours of its off-spring, it can miss its extra richness and depth and also show more of a raspberry-like fruit and a more leafy, herbal or even floral, component. Cabernet Sauvignon Grown almost everywhere, a grape of forceful and easily recognisable personality, it is much more fussy in showing at its best. Though capable of great richness, depth and structure, a lack of full ripeness in both fruit and tannin tends to detract from so many examples. A long growing season and well-drained soils are two prerequisites to producing the greatest elegance and classic telltale blackcurrant but also black cherry or blackberry flavours that mesh so well with new French oak. Though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates blends, the majority of top examples many do include a percentage of complementary varietals such as Merlot or Cabernet Franc which complement it in both flavour and structure. Many countries have identified at least one region where it really excels with the greatest riches from the Médoc, Napa Valley, Tuscany, Coonawarra and Margaret River. A significant number of world class examples have also come from Washington State, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina as well as a few from Spain and South Africa.
Caiño Blanco Very rare Spanish white grape which can a be component in blends from Rias Baixas.
Caiño Tinto Rare red variety cultivated in Ribeiro (where it may be referred to as Caiño Longo) and Rias Baixas producing wines with marked acidity and a typically nervy character from these cooler climes.
Caiño Tinto see Caiño Tinto.
Callet Good quality red grape native to Mallorca.
Canaiolo Chiefly Tuscan variety and used to complement Sangiovese but discarded by many in favour of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon for their Chianti Classico. A mini revival is underway as some producers seek to produce reds of more individual character.
Cannonau Sardinian version of Grenache, for long produced as an inexpensive quaffing red,
Cannonau di Sardegna. Several committed growers are now realizing its true potential, sometimes as
IGT reds. Rare good fortified versions are also made from late-harvested or dried grapes.
Carignan This variety, particularly in the Midi was long seen as no more than a bulk workhorse variety. However the movement in both the Midi and in Spain as Cariñena (occasionally Mazuelo), mainly in Montsant and Priorat to recover old vine plantings and restrict yields for quality has the shown the potentially excellent quality that can be achieved from the grape. Fully ripened and from old vines the wines are intense mineral and richly sicy and full of striking dark fruit. 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 This 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. In Spain it is known as Cariñena Blanca and there are very isolated plantings in Empordà.
Carignan Gris see Carignan Blanc. Carignane see Carignan. Carignano see Carignan.
Cariñena see Carignan.
Cariñena Blanca see Carignan.
Carmenère Old Bordeaux variety of increasing importance in Chile where much of it continues to be sold as Merlot. As they are often planted in a field blend together the disparity in ripening times further compromises the quality of fruit from high-yielding vines. Once isolated and made from well-established low-yielding vines it has excellent potential with a characterful wild berry and spice character. Also thought to be confused with other grapes in regions where plantings were established from Bordeaux cuttings in the 19th century.
Casavecchia Obscure grape variety very recently revived by Pepe Mancini ( Terre del Principe) in Campania in Southern Italy. Castelão Portuguese grape also still widely known as Periquita, extensively grown in the southern regions but most successful in the Palmela DOC in the Terras do Sado region.
Cayetana 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 see Tempranillo.
Cesanese d’Affile Another potential Italian star grape and one that Lazio looks like making it own after years of making decent but slightly boring reds from both Cabernets and Merlot. A recent proliferation of examples, some under relatively obscure DOCs already provide sufficient evidence of its class, texture and spicy red fruits complexity. It is considered superior to that called simply Cesanese (or Cesanese Comune).
Charbono see Bonarda.
Chardonnay Ironically the only significant wine regions where this grape is not grown are found in France. The great white grape of Burgundy has a great affinity for oak and can produce whites of marvellous texture, depth and richness but will also render a wonderful expression of its origins where yields are low. Some of the top mineral-imbued examples of Chablis are aged only in large used oak while others see no oak whatsoever. High quality grapes allied to winemaking sophistication is essential – too many examples, wherever they are made, show a clumsy winemaking fingerprint (excessive leesy, skin contact or oak flavours) or inferior fruit (under-ripe, over-ripe) or are simply unclean, acidified or lacking balance. Outstanding examples are produced from California to the Antipodes (the latter including some of the best values) and beyond. Chardonnay also forms a part of almost all top quality sparkling wines, especially Champagne. When varietal and sparkling it is known as Blanc de Blancs. Rich botrytised versions are unusual but have been made to a high standard in the Mâconnais, Austria and New Zealand.
Chasselas Relatively neutral white grape also known as Fendant in Switzerland where it assumes greater importance and produces whites of higher quality than anywhere else in the world. The best examples reflect something of the specific terroirs with good structure and minerality in Dézaley and Calamin. From the opposite, southern shore of Lac Léman in Savoie come the best French examples (including Crépy). Rare decent examples are also made in the Loire (Pouilly-sur-Loire) and Alsace.
Chenin Blanc High quality white grape of Touraine and Anjou in the Loire Valley. Outstanding long- lived wines ranging from dry to sweet are made and owe much to the grape’s high acidity. Apple and citrus flavours within a firm, demanding texture are usually complemented by floral, honey and mineral characters with quince, peach even apricot in sweeter styles. Despite there being more extensive plantings in California and South Africa, good examples from outside the Loire remain few. Washington State and New Zealand also provide one or two. Also an important base for some good quality sparkling wines.
Ciliegiolo Difficult central Italian variety, not least, to pronounce. One of several natives (also see Colorino, Canaiolo) being revived by committed growers seeking more authentic Tuscan reds than those that rely in part or whole on foreign varieties. One or two varietal examples from old vine fruit show a captivating wild cherry character.
Cinsaut/Cinsault Characterful Rhône variety where taken seriously. Can add perfume and complexity both to southern Rhône blends and wines from the Languedoc and Corsica, especially when yields are low.
Coda di Volpe Ancient Campanian variety mentioned by Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia. Often forming part of a blend it has also been produced varietally but as yet without any great distinction.
Colorino Deep coloured red grape of Central Italy and Tuscany, once used to beef up Chianti made by the governo technique. Mostly used along with Canaiolo to complement Sangiovese but very occasionally contributes significantly to reds of tremendous character, depth and richness, from isolated locations where the vines are of high quality.
Cortese Piedmont grape of moderate quality best known for the mostly undistinguished Gavi. A handful of producers have improved both concentration and character of their wines through lower yields; the subtle use of oak can also help. Other examples such as those from the Monferrato hills can be attractively fruity if rarely showing much depth or refinement.
Corvina Leading red variety in Italy’s Veneto for Valpolicella, Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella. Though only giving moderate colour and tannin its thickish skins help it to resist rot during the drying process or appassimento. The related Corvinone can bring more colour, concentration and structure to a blend.
Crespiello A native red variety of Aragón only recovered very recently. Produces impressive, characterful results through the work of the Bioenos laboratory. The variety produces wines with good natural balance but is difficult to cultivate. The original name of the variety is Vivadillo of Almonacid and is also known as Vidadillo.
Dolcetto Piedmont grape capable of wonderful fruit intensity yet lively acidity and moderate tannin. Most of the best examples with a mineral or herbal streak to black cherry or black plum fruit, are unoaked and mean’t to be drunk with between one and three years’ age but there are ageworthy exceptions, especially those from old low-yielding vines whether in the Dogliani or Alba zones. Known as Ormeasco in Liguria.
Doña Blanca 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 at best 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. See Boal.
Dona Branco see Doña Blanca.
Dornfelder 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 in marginal climates.
Durif Red grape variety found in the USA, particularly in California, southern France, Australia and Israel. The wines are dark, inky and potentially quite tannic with hints of pepper and spice. See Petite Sirah
Encruzado Portuguese variety starting to show considerable quality in the Dão region. Subtly oaked it can show good depth, a gentle texture and a refined, perfumed, slightly exotic fruit character.
Erbaluce Little seen Piedmont white of pronounced acidity but with attractive fruit when fully ripe and dry as Erbaluce di Caluso. Caluso Passito, from dried grapes is potentially better quality while a little sparkling wine is also made.
Espadeiro A red grape of Portuguese origin, found in small holdings in Galicia, particularly Valdeorras and Rias Baixas. It offers soft berry flavoured wines, generally as a part of a blend.
Falanghina Another potential star grape from southern Italy set to rival Fiano and Greco. Though still not widely seen the number of good examples, showing impressive texture and flavour with a couple of years’ age, is on the increase.
Favorita see Vermentino.
Ferrón Red variety found in the Ribeiro DO in Spain’s Galicia region where it can be a minor component in blends.
Fiano Perfumed and flavoursome white grape from Campania from which increasing amounts of spicy, dry whites with fullish peachy, slightly nutty fruit are made. Late-harvested versions and those from botrytis affected grapes have also been successfully made.
Fogoneu is a red grape planted in the Balearic Islands. It can be found in wines from the Mallorca and
Formentera VTs and in Plà i Llevant.
Folle Blanche is a white grape originating from the south west of France and found in the Loire Valley where it is used to make the somewhat tart wines of Gros Plant du Nantais, the name of which is a synonym. There a small plantings in the Chacoli area.
Frappato Fragrant red Sicilian variety that character to Cerasuolo di Vittoria reds.
Freisa Characterful, perfumed Piedmont grape often made frizzante (lightly sparkling), sometimes with a little residual sugar. A handful of dry versions are excellent where its predisposition to astringency on the finish has been mastered.
Friulano Now officially Friulano (formerly Tocai Friulano), found in North-East Italy, this grape produces refined dry whites with herb ( jasmine), citrus and nectarine character. It is difficult to believe but it is said to be related to the poor quality Sauvignonasse (Sauvignon Vert) variety still widely grown in Chile and for long passed off as Sauvignon Blanc.
Furmint Top quality Hungarian grape giving its greatest expression as the basis of the sweet wines of the Tokaj region thanks to its high acidity, susceptibility to noble rot and refined flavours. Also occasionally made in good dry versions and used by some producers in Austria’s Burgenland for sweet Ausbruch wines.
Gaglioppo Late-ripening southern Italian red variety of chief importance in Calabria. The colour can develop quite quickly and the tannin and alcohol levels can be high. From moderate yields, wines can show impressive depth and develop a rich, chocolaty, savoury complexity.
Gamay The grape of the Beaujolais region and well-suited to its granitic soils. Examples range from the dilute and insipid to the impressively deep and fruity. Most but not all of it is produced by semi- carbonic maceration producing a supple texture but partly compromising its cherry fruit perfume and flavour. Plantings extend into the Mâconnais to the north where it performs poorly; mercifully, some at least, is being replaced by Chardonnay. The only really significant other area where the true Gamay grape is planted is in Touraine in the Loire Valley where some fresh and attractive examples are made.
Garganega The ‘good’ grape of Soave capable of producing intense, sleek whites when yields are low. Even more impressive when made from late-harvested or dried grapes (for Recioto di Soave).
Garnacha/Garnacha Tinta see Grenache. Garnacha Blanca see Grenache Blanc. Garnacha Gris see Grenache Gris.
Garnacha Tintorera 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 (red fleshed) and goes by the name of Alicante Bouschet in France and California. See Alicante Bouschet.
Gewürztraminer / Traminer Both of these names are used to describe a remarkably aromatic distinctive grape variety that has produced good examples from around the world. This versatile grapy white is redolent in scents from the floral and musky to rose petal, lychee and spices. Styles range from the light and fresh to rich, oily textured wines and from dry to off-dry through late- harvested to sweet, botrytised wines. Weaker efforts lack definition and a certain coarseness, particularly on the finish, is only avoided in top quality examples. The greatest range of styles and highest quality comes from Alsace which is followed by Italy’s Alto Adige and Germany. Though fewer in number the best new world examples arguably come from New Zealand but there is good quality too in Australia, California, Oregon and Canada and in Chile’s Casablanca Valley.
Godello Good quality white grape grown in Galicia in north-west 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 as well as tank vinified wines are made.
Grauburgunder see Pinot Gris
Graciano Good quality red grape found mainly in Rioja where it is generally blended with Tempranillo and sometimes Garnacha as well. 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.
Grechetto White variety of greatest significance in Umbria where it is used as a component in Orvieto and Colli Martani but also leading whites such as Cervaro della Sala.
Greco Greco or more specifically Greco di Tufo (to distinguish it from other similar names) does come originally from Greece and does well on the volcanic soils in Campania’s Avellino hills in southern Italy. At its best it is attractively scented with citrus, peachy fruit and a firm texture and slightly nutty finish.
Grenache Leading grape variety in the southern Rhône where it forms the backbone wines from the leading appellations, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. Quality and style vary enormously but is capable of great longevity when produced from low-yielding fruit. Grenache also forms a component of many of Languedoc-Roussillon’s reds including Banyuls and Collioure near the border with Spain. In Spain too, as Garnacha, the variety can produce exceptional reds, in particular in Priorat, Montsant and in the Gredos Mountains in Toledo. Other good examples also come from
Emporda and Navarra and the grape is a constituent of Rioja. In Sardinia, it goes under the name of Cannonau. In Australia some of the best vines were uprooted before its quality potential was reassessed. It is now part of, often high quality, fashionable blends that usually include Shiraz and Mourvèdre with a similar situation in California. The grape is also grown successfully in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and South Africa.
Grenache Blanc Previously undistinguished grape. 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 and is occasionally vinified as a varietal. It is also significant in Spain, as Garnacha Blanca, in regions to the south of the Pyrenees. Priorat, Terra Alta and Alella in Cataluña are all sources and the grape can also be found in Navarra and Aragon. It is permitted in Rioja but rarely used.
Grenache Gris A pink tinged mutation of the Grenache family found in small quantities in Languedoc-Roussillon and in Empordà on the north-east Mediterrannean coast where it is known as Garnacha Gris.
Gros Manseng Important grape of South-West France, particularly for the production of the dry wines of Jurançon with an exotic fruit character. Also used for the sweet wines, often together with the related but finer Petit Manseng. In the basque Country in Spain it is known as Izkiriot Handi.
Grüner Veltliner From terraces above the Danube in the Wachau region in Lower Austria, this relatively unknown grape can produce remarkably good full-bodied whites. Neighbouring regions of Kremstal, Kamptal and Traisental can also produce peppery, citrus, yellow plum flavoured wines that become gently honeyed and increasingly complex with age. Its tendency to high alcohol needs to be balanced by good acidity and fruit richness. More everyday examples can be dilute and lack charm. Its cultivation is increasing with vines grown in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and there are small parcels in Hungary. The grape is now being grown in a number of US regions; Oregon, New York, Napa Valley and the Santa Ynez Valley are also sources. Grüner has also been planted in isolated locations in both Australia and New Zealand.
Hárslevelü Complementary variety to Furmint in the production of Tokaji when it adds aroma. Also makes spicy, perfumed dry whites in other parts of Hungary. Inzolia Increasingly important white variety in Sicily for fresh dry whites with good perfume and flavour; also a component of some of the best Marsala. As a minor variety in Tuscany it is known as Ansonica.
Hondarribí Beltza Red grape variety grown in the three Txakoli appellations in Spain’s Basque country (Pais Vasco). Marked by its fresh acidity and red fruit and leafy notes it can be very good and striking.
Hondarrabí Zuri is the white grape native to the Txakoli DOs. This is more commonly encountered than the Hondarribí Beltza and the wines can be good to very good with citrus, apple scents, herbs and a floral component all showing themselves.
Incrocio Manzoni see Manzoni Bianco.
Inzolia Decent quality white grape grown in Sicily and used in the production of Marsala. Can also be found in Tuscany where it is called Ansonica.
Izkiriot Handi is a white grape of French origins. Tiny amounts are planted in the Bizkaiko Txakolina DO in Spain’s Basque Country. It is much better known in its native Jurançon in south western France where it produces characterful aromatic whites as Gros Manseng.
Jaen Important component in red Dão blends and capable of good fruit intensity if relatively modest structure. Its smoky, spicy, berryish fruit has occasionally been fully expressed in one or two varietal examples. 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 red grape found in Zamora in 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.
Kékfrankos see Blaufränkisch
Kerner K is also for Kerner, a productive German crossing ( Trollinger x Riesling) of potentially good quality. Though in decline it is still Germany’s fourth most planted white variety. Mostly confined to Rheinhessen and Pfalz but also Württemberg and Mosel, often used in large volume, branded whites. Occasionally made varietally – unusually good expressions of the variety come from the Abbazia di Novacella in the south Tyrol (see North-East Italy).
Lacrima Black grape found only in Italy’s Marche region. Almost extinct in the 1970s, it potential loss some would argue was not worth shedding a tear over. Now considerably revived, typical examples Lacrima di Morro d’Alba reds are rose and tea scented without much substance yet can reveal hard, green tannins. A mere handful of producers do far better with a persuasive, lushly textured red that goes superbly with white meats. Not to be confused with Campania’s DOC Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio which is based on Piedirosso.
Lado A white grape variety which is a minor component in the white wines of Ribeiro in Galicia in northern Spain. It adds aromatic complexity and refreshing acidity
Lagrein Grape found in Trentino-Alto Adige (North-East Italy) and fast becoming the most important red variety in the region. Both supple, fruity everyday reds and deep coloured, concentrated, often oak-aged, reds full of bramble, dark plum and cherry fruit, are being made in increasing numbers. It has the fruit intensity of other native North-East reds but more moderate tannin and acidity levels that suggest it has potential elsewhere too.
Lambrusco The grape behind one of Italy’s most discredited wine styles. Real Lambrusco, red and sparkling but dry, refreshing and a good food match too will usually come from one of the best, localised sub-varieties such as Grasparossa, Salamino or Sorbara.
Lemberger see Blaufränkisch
Listán Blanca Lightly herb scented white grape grown in the Canary Islands.
Listán Negra Red grape, native to the Canary Islands making fresh, fruit-driven wines that should be drunk young.
Loureiro Along with Alvarinho and Trajadura one of the principal grapes of Vinho Verde. Like Alvarinho of sufficient quality to be produced varietally for fine, scented dry whites.
Magliocco Potentially high quality grape variety ‘rescued’ by Librandi in Calabria in southern Italy. Appears to be capable of producing deeply coloured, distinctive full-bodied and ageworthy reds.
Macabeo/Viura One of northern Spains 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 Penedés in the production of Cava. Also goes by the pseudonyms Macabeu and Subirat. It is extensively planted in the Languedoc and in the Roussillon where it is respectively known under the pseudonyms Maccabéo or Maccabeu
Macabeu see Macabeo/Viura Maccabéo see Macabeo/Viura Maccabeu see Macabeo/Viura
Madeleine Angevine An attractively flowery, lightly aromatic grape with a diverse parentage that grows well in cool regions. It produces good crisp dry wines with plenty of acidity and is well suited to the English climate.
Malbec Essentially another of Bordeaux’s rejects, the peppery, blackfruited Malbec has found favour as the major constituent of Cahors in South-West France but has become even more strongly associated with Argentina. The latter examples tend to be softer and more approachable though can want for structure but there is high quality from both sources. Good quality is also obtained from a limited amount of old vine plantings in South Australia while it is on the increase in Chile and performs well in New Zealand. It is of minor importance in the Loire Valley where it is known as Cot
Malvar 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 This name covers a great many closely related varieties from Italy, Spain and Portugal. In North-East Italy Malvasia Istriana can be a characterful dry white. In Tuscany dried Malvasia grapes bring more quality when added to Trebbiano for Vin Santo while in Lazio Malvasia can rescue the whites of the Colli Albani, such as Frascati, from blandness. In the south it turns sweet when made from passito grapes on the volcanic island of Lipari. In Spain it can add substance to some white Rioja and can be found in both the Canary and Balearic Islands while in Portugal’s Douro Malvasia grapes could end up in White Port or as a dry white. As Malvasia Fina one or two good varietal white Dão are made while on Madeira it is the grape responsible for the richest, sweetish style of Madeira, Malmsey.
Malvasia Nera A black version of Malvasia of considerable importance in Puglia but also found elsewhere in Italy, mostly in the south but also in Tuscany. Aromatic, its distinctive black plum fruit adds character to reds usually based on either Negroamaro, Primitivo or Sangiovese.
Mandó A rare and experimental red grape planted in Valencia. It would appear to have some potential, producing small clusters and being naturally low yielding.
Manto Negro Red grape, indigenous to the Balearics and widely planted in the Binissalem DO. Works well in blends with both Callet and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mantonico Grape found in Southern Italy usually made into light but elegant sweet whites but also made in a dry, oaked version by Librandi in Calabria.
Manzoni Bianco 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 Penedés.
Marsanne At its best this is an intensely flavoured white with succulent peach and apricot fruit and often a tell-tale honeysuckle character. It is particularly important in northern Rhône whites, sometimes in partnership with Roussanne. It is also produced in Hermitage as Vin de Paille. It crops up again in blends in Côtes du Rhône whites (but not white Châteauneuf-du-Pape), Languedoc- Roussillon and even in Provence. It is grown too in Switzerland’s Valais (as Ermitage) and makes a rare appearance (or two) in Italy. Its use in California is likely to increase while the best examples in Australia come from the Goulburn Valley in Victoria.
Marselan 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 see Mourvèdre
Maturana Tinta A rare red grape from Rioja. Experimental winemaking is producing characterful results.
Mavrodaphne Greek grape responsible for the bold, sweet reds of Pátras but also used as a blending component in dry reds.
Mazuelo refer to Cariñena.
Melon de Bourgogne The grape responsible for the many bland dry whites of Muscadet. The best examples however can be both refreshing and flavoursome, usually owed, at least in part, to ageing sur lie. Also grown in Oregon, Washington State and Ontario.
Mencía An important red variety in north-west Spain and in particular Bierzo where some exceptional dark-fruited, very mineral wines are being produced, marked more by their acidity than their tannin. Also planted in the nearby Galician DOs of Valdeorras and Ribeira Sacra. DNA fingerprinting has also established that it is the same variety as the Portuguese Jaen which is found in Dão
Merlot There are very few significant wine producing countries where there isn’t at least some Merlot, even Switzerland and Canada have plenty of it. Its home though is in Bordeaux and it can range from a few per cent to almost varietal (as in Château Pétrus). Much Merlot is lean, weedy and under-ripe. In fact few Merlot-dominated wines in fact come close to those of Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Although good ripe, lush reds have been produced from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, California, Washington State, Italy and Spain, very few of these combine that richness with the classic berry plumminess and fruitcake, spice, fig or clove character that make it so enticing. Tuscany and California do it most often but in Chile (where it is mixed up with Carmenère) and elsewhere, great examples are the exception.
Merseguera is a white grape found on Spain’s south eastern Mediterranean coast and a significant element of white blends in the Valencia DO.
Monastrell see Mourvèdre
Mondeuse Characterful French grape from Savoie. High in acidity but capable of intense beetroot, plum and cherry flavours and an attractive floral scent. . It is often blended with Pinot Noir, Gamay and Poulsard. Though a localised variety, one producer (Cottanera) has planted it at altitude in Sicily. It may be one and the same as Fruili’s Refosco. Also cultivated in Argentina, Australia and California.
Monica Sardinian variety that has been in decline – mostly transformed into simple fruity everyday reds.
Montepulciano Gutsy spicy red variety that dominates the adriatic seaboard in central Italy. Most examples are fruit rich (distinctive red and black cherry) with good extract and colour but verge on the rustic without competent vinification. Both the Abruzzo and Marche regions increasingly provide top quality versions which reveal impressive breadth, refinement and complexity. NOT to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from the Tuscan hill top town of the same name which is based primarily on Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile).
Moravia Dulce is a relatively rare red grape found in Spain’s Manchuela DO and across La Mancha. At its best providing aromatic character in blends with Garnacha it has a tendency to yield heavily.
Moravia Agria is a native red variety of La Mancha, which can blend successfully with Garnacha and differs from Moravia Dulce, being higher in natural acidity.
Moscatel Muscat from Spain or Portugal. Mostly of the Muscat of Alexandria form, styles range from dry and aromatic to sweet, often fortified (as with Moscatel de Setúbal). Moscatel de Grano Menudo is the superior Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains form. Also see Muscat
Moscato see Muscat
Moschofilero Decent Greek pink-hued grape variety used increasingly in dry white blends. Muscat like it adds spice and aroma.
Mourvèdre High quality grape found in southern France at the very limits of ripening. It is most important incarnation is as powerful, tannic and ageworthy Bandol but some in Châteauneuf-du- Pape use it for blending as do producers in the Languedoc-Roussillon. In Spain (as Monastrell) it has been rather neglected in terms of producing high quality but an increasing number of producers in Jumilla and elsewhere are starting to realize its potential there. In Australia and California it is sometimes called Mataro but in both places it can also excel both varietally and in blends.
Müller Thurgau Although it once formed the major part of white wine production in New Zealand and still yields generously for basic plonk in Germany, this German crossing of has few admirers. It lacks the structure and class of one of its parents (Riesling) but still makes attractive wine in good hands – selected producers in the Alto Adige (North-East Italy) take it as seriously as any.
Muscadelle Relatively unsung grape of Bordeaux where it is used sparingly in sweet wines (including Sauternes) and in some of the lesser dry whites. Its true potential however, where it can achieve extraordinary complexity (as Topaque, formerly Tokay), is seen in Victoria, Australia – mostly in and around Rutherglen in the North-East of the state.
Muscadet see Melon de Bourgogne
Muscat There is a whole family of Muscat grapes and it comes in many guises however there three principal grapes: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Ottonel. It can be dry, medium-dry or sweet – whether from dried grapes or fortified or a combination of the two. It is also made sparkling. What all the best examples have in common is the intense, heady grapiness – that taste of the grape itself. Only occasionally is it a wine for ageing. Alsace makes it both dry and intensely sweet, in southern France there are the Vins Doux Naturel of Beaumes de Venises and Rivesaltes (amongst others). In Spain Moscatel can be found in the south and south-east and on the Canary Islands while Portugal has the sweet fortified Moscatel de Setúbal. In Italy there’s Asti or the better Moscato d’Asti and there’s also yellow and pink forms of it (Moscato Giallo and Moscato Rosa) in the North-East – usually made off-dry or medium-sweet. Off-shore from Sicily the grapes Zibibbo are dried for raisiny, apricotty Passito di Pantelleria. In Germany (called Muskateller) it ranges from dry to sweet and Austria’s best examples are also sweet. Gelber Muskateller is for the yellow/gold-skinned variant, Roter Muskateller for the red-skinned version. In Greece, Samos Muscat is produced. In North- East Victoria the intense raisiny Rutherglen Muscat is produced while in the US dry, medium-dry and sweet examples are produced by a few (but including Black Muscat and Orange Muscat). From South Africa comes the famed rich, sweet Vin de Constance. In fact there is seemingly no end to it.
Muskateller see Muscat
Nebbiolo The classic variety of Piedmont that remains almost exclusively the source of high quality examples of the grape. Capable of exquisite aroma and flavour its youthful austerity and tannin, while less formidable than in the past, can still present a challenge to some palates. Its dark raspberry, cherry or blackberry fruit, herb and floral aromas take on increasing complexity with age and the best examples give a wonderful expression of their terroir. Oak needs to be used with care in order not to overwhelm its unique perfumes and flavour. Lighter, fragrant but fruity examples of the grape can be a bit hit and miss, often being produced from less good sites. The only source of Nebbiolo-based wines in any significant quantity outside Piedmont is as Valtellina Superiore in Lombardy where it is called Chiavennasca. There are a handful of examples to be found in California (where it has enjoyed some success on the Central Coast) and Australia.
Negramoll Red grape grown in the Canaries.
Négrette Grape of South-West France of greatest importance in Côtes du Frontonnais where it forms the major part of the blend. It gives supple, perfumed berryish wines with a slightly wild edge.
Negroamaro For long the basis of many of the often rustic, raisiny reds from Puglia’s Salento peninsula in southern Italy including Salice Salentino. Its dark, bitter flavours are not to everyone’s taste but are sometimes toned down by other varieties such as Malvasia Nera. Subject to better winemaking it has recently shown much greater potential including some exciting varietal examples.
Nerello Mascalese Once seen only as a high-yielding blending variety, it is now emerging both as a complementary grape to the increasingly highly-regarded Nero d’Avola as well as a top quality varietal in its own right. From its origins on volcanic soils around the slopes of Mount Etna, it can show impressive class, complexity and texture. It also often blended with the related Nerello Cappuccio.
Nero d’Avola Widely planted in Sicily and currently seen as the island’s best native red variety. It produces rich, intense, deep-coloured reds with a peppery black-fruited character and adding more depth and complexity with age. Is said to be related to Syrah.
Neuburger Unsung Austrian grape that is a crossing of Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Silvaner. Can form an important component of both sweet (often high quality) and dry wines in Burgenland.
Nielluccio Leading black grape on the island of Corsica shown to be identical to Sangiovese though seems a more rugged variety from tasting evidence. Often blended with Sciacarello.
Ortega 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.
Pallagrello Bianco Interesting white variety grown in Campania giving wines of good structure and depth. Now considered to be distinct from Coda di Volpe with which it was previously considered one and the same. Currently made by just two producers of note: Vestini Campagnano and Terre del Principe.
Pallagrello Nero Like Casavecchia a previously obscure grape variety very recently revived by Pepe
Mancini ( Terre del Principe) in Campania in Southern Italy.
Palomino (Fino) The humble grape that dominates the chalky soils of Jerez is responsible for the diverse, often extraordinary wines that result from the elaboration of Sherry. When vinified as a dry white it is quite ordinary.
Parraleta A native red grape of Somontano in northern Spain.
Parellada 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 traditional grapes in Cava sparkling wines.
Pecorino Here not referring to Italian ewes milk cheeses but an Italian grape variety planted in Abruzzo where whites of good structure have recently emerged.
Pedro Ximenez this grape is commonly found in the DOs of Málaga 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 Quality grape producing sometimes exquisite dry and sweet wines of Jurançon in South-West France. Increasingly used by growers in the Languedoc for its exotic, floral and spice character that is supported by good acidity. Also gaining a foothold in California and Virginia in the USA with small holdings in Australia.
Petit Verdot Sometimes an important minor component in Bordeaux, especially the Médoc but increasingly too in similar blends made in many other regions where Cabernet Sauvignon is successful. Late ripening, as a variety it can show more than hint of violet in aroma as well as intense blackberry fruit and pencil shavings. There are also a small number of single variety examples showing real potential in places like the upper reaches of the Sierras de Málaga in southern Spain, the Napa Valley and elsewhere. Planted as well in South America in Chile and Argentina as well as in Australia.
Petite Arvine Of greatest significance in Switzerland’s Valais, fine if demanding minerally whites are produced in a range of styles from dry to sweet. Also produced in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta.
Petite Sirah The name given to Durif in California which produces powerful, robust tannic varietal wines with dense spicy, brambly fruit. Also used to add complexity to some leading examples of Zinfandel.
Phoenix A white German variety created at the Geiweilerhof Institute. It is a cross of Bacchus and a hybrid variety and bred to increase flavour quality and provide better disease resistance. Mainly grown in Germany there are small plantings in England and Wales.
Picapoll see Picpoul Blanc
Picolit White grape in Friuli (North-East Italy) from which are produced stylish, moderately sweet whites with dried peach, pear and floral characters. Its individuality and elegance are often dismissed by those expecting something richer and more powerful.
Picpoul Blanc 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 see Picpoul Blanc
Piedirosso A grape variety probably used by the Romans and undergoing something of a revival in Campania’s current rebirth. It has good acidity and a dark wild fruit character but is mostly used in blends, often complementing Aglianico.
Pigato For wines from Pigato, visit Liguria in North-East Italy. Sold under the Riviera di Ligure di
Ponente DOC, the best show a terse minerality and contrast with Vermentino from the region.
Pignolo Previously obscure Friulian variety capable of showing an impressive black-fruited richness and the vibrant acidity typical of reds from native varieties in North-East Italy.
Pinot Bianco see Pinot Blanc
Pinot Blanc Variety most associated with Alsace and Italy’s Alto Adige and Friuli. In Alsace old low yielding vines give it good character though is often blended with the delightfully scented Auxerrois which can make the better wine. It is also the basis of most Crémant d’Alsace. The Italians take it as seriously as anyone and produce some fine (both oaked and unoaked) whites with a cream and walnuts character. German examples can show good intensity but can be spoilt by a lack of balance or too much oak. Decent examples have also been produced in California, Oregon and Canada and the variety is also found in Austria and Hungary.
Pinot Grigio see Pinot Gris
Pinot Gris Excellent white grape, in fact a mutant of Pinot Noir. It is most associated with Alsace where it produces distinctively flavoured whites of intense spice, pear and quince flavours. Late- harvested it takes on an almost exotic, honeyed richness and nobly-rotted Sélection des Grains Nobles can be superb. In Germany as Grauburgunder or Ruländer good examples are made in warmer regions. Beyond simple Italian Pinot Grigio, there are some fine concentrated, delicately creamy examples from Friuli and Alto Adige. Oregon has made something of a speciality of it to complement its Pinot Noir while despite its proven potential in New Zealand it has only recently captured the imagination of a wider number of wine producers. Good examples are also made in California, Victoria and Canada.
Pinot Meunier Very important component in most Champagne blends if rarely used for anything else. Early ripening and as a wine, early developing, it complements both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While ignored by many New World producers of premium sparkling wines, some do have significant plantings of the variety.
Pinot Noir Success with Pinot Noir beyond Burgundy has been slow coming but there are now many regions in the world at least emulating the fabulous flavour complexity if not the structure and supreme texture of the top Burgundies. Flavours include cherry, raspberry, strawberry but can also include sappy, undergrowth characters or become more gamey in response to both origin and wine making. The expressions of terroir and differing winemaking interpretations in Burgundy are almost endless. Outside of Burgundy those regions or countries emerging with the greatest potential for Pinot Noir are New Zealand, California, Oregon, Tasmania but also cool parts of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Success in Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, Chile and South Africa is more limited yet further potential exists. Pinot Noir is also very important as a component of most of the world’s best sparkling wines.
Pinotage Characterful yet tainted South African variety due to its tendency to produce unattractive paint-like aromas (isoamyl acetate). A crossing of Cinsaut and Pinot Noir, from old bush vines in particular it can produce deep, concentrated reds with spicy, plum and berry fruit flavours uncompromised by any volatile esters. The occasional adequate example is also produced in New Zealand.
Plantafina is a white grape found in the Valencia DO in Spain.
Poulsard Variety of France’s Jura giving relatively light coloured reds and rosés. Most wines are for everyday drinking being soft and fruity yet with an acid sinew. Can also form a part of Vin de Paille with Savagnin and Chardonnay.
Prensal/ Prensal Blanc An indigenous Mallorcan white grape. It contributes lightly floral, herb scented aromas, mainly in blends although occasionally as a varietal.
Prieto Picudo 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 DNA fingerprinted as one and the same as Zinfandel, though debate continues about where in Europe they originated from. As Primitivo it is increasingly important in southern Italy, particularly in Puglia where old alberello-trained vines produce robust, characterful reds with moderate ageing potential.
Prosecco The grape with the potential for a delightful undemanding sparkling wine of the same name from Italy’s Veneto. Pretention or overelaboration as well as anything more than a smidgen of residual sugar can distort its exuberant, direct freshness.
Refosco (dal Peduncolo Rosso) Somewhat derided grape but the ‘red-stemmed’ version has the potential for quality. Only occasionally encountered outside its native Friuli in North-East Italy, poorer examples are characterised by harsh tannins and high acidity but more care in the vineyard is resulting in high quality fruit with a brambly character. Produced both as part of a blend and varietally, good examples are on the increase. It may be related to Mondeuse.
Ribolla Ribolla Gialla, as it is often called, produces characterful herbscented dry whites in its native Friuli in North-East Italy.
Rieslaner High quality late-ripening crossing of Riesling and Silvaner. Tiny amounts of outstanding sweet wines can be produced in Germany’s Pfalz, Baden and Franken regions when the grapes are fully ripe.
Riesling This outstanding white grape has an almost infinite number of expressions. Styles vary from bone dry to intensely sweet, from low alcohol to powerful and full-bodied. Its impressive range of flavours including apple, citrus, peach and apricot, are complemented by a minerality that subtle differences of place or terroir bring. It is nearly almost made varietally and aged in stainless steel or large old wood. Obtaining full ripeness and the right balance between sugar and acidity is crucial to quality. The most delicate, exquisite Riesling comes from Germany though there are many different expressions there while Alsace provides the fullest, most powerful examples. Austria’s Wachau is closer to this style than Germany but with purity and minerality of its own. Australia also produces high quality Riesling, showing different expressions from Western Australia to the Clare, Eden Valley and Tasmania. The considerable potential for Riesling in New Zealand has yet to be fully realised. Good examples also come from the US; as much in Washington State and the Fingers Lakes region of New York State as California or Oregon. Some examples of Canadian Icewine are based on Riesling. A small number of decent wines have also emerged from Spain, South Africa and Chile.
Rondo 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 as far north as Denmark. The key to success is early ripening with good colour and sugar concentration. Generally at its best in blends with other varieties.
Rossese Mostly confined to basic rendings of the Ligurian DOC Rossese di Dolceaqua (Giuncheo’s oak-aged version is good) but can form a part of other decent reds from the region.
Roussette Fine white grape found in Savoie in eastern France where it is also known as Altesse. The best wines with good structure and weight have a mineral, herb and citrus intensity as well as more exotic nuances when produced from low yielding vines on the best steep slopes.
Roussanne High quality white grape that is difficult to grow. Roussanne’s impressive texture and depth can be seen in wines from both the northern and southern Rhône, sometimes on its own but other times complementing Marsanne. It is also favoured by some of the leading quality producers in Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, if mostly in blends. Also the grape used for fine perfumed Chignin-Bergeron whites in Savoie. Outside France, California, Washington State and Australia have a few high quality whites based, at least partly, on Roussanne.
Rufete 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 see Pinot Gris
Sagrantino Central Italian variety localized at Montefalco in Umbria. Potentially rich in extract, tannin and with high acidity its true potential as an outstanding dry red has long been realized by Caprai. Recently a wave of promising new examples thanks to better viticulture and winemaking. Rarer are good sweet passito versions, from dried grapes.
Samling 88 see Scheurebe.
Samsó A synonym used in Cataluña for the Cariñena red grape. There is some confusion regarding this because this is also a synonym used for the French Cinsault variety. The grape is additionally referred to by the producer Torres as a recovered native variety of Cataluña and is listed as a separate component of their Conca de Barbarà Gran Muralles red blend that also includes Cariñena. See also Cariñena.
Sangiovese The leading variety in Italy and the grape that dominates production in Tuscany. All the classic Tuscan appellations are based on it and the improvement in quality is on-going as the revolution in winemaking is being followed by one in the vineyard. Styles range from the light and fruity to oaky, powerful and tannic but the best are pure, refined and individual. It is made to a very high standard both varietally and in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot yet some of the most distinctive expressions include a small percentage of minor native varieties such as Canaiolo or Colorino. The most important area for its production outside Tuscany is Romagna but it also plays an important role in Umbria. Good examples have been produced in California – both varietally or in blends with Cabernet or other varieties. One or two adequate examples are also made in Australia, Washington State, Argentina, Chile and South Africa.
St-Laurent Pinot Noir like Austrian grape held in high regard locally. Only the very best examples, however show a texture and complexity that suggests top Pinot Noir or Burgundy. It has recently been reintroduced to Luxembourg.
Saperavi Highly regarded grape of Georgia (on the Black Sea). Top modern examples of the varieties remain rare but one or two hints at enormous potential. It is hoped that this might yet spur its revival. Also small plantings in the King Valley in Victoria, Australia have been turned into a good varietal version by Symphonia.
Sauvignon Blanc Aromatic white grape capable of a wide range of expression and quality. The most structured and ageworthy examples come from France whether the classic mineral-laced wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé (now richer and riper than previously) or the more oak influenced, peachy examples from Bordeaux (some blended with Sémillon) that will age for more than a decade. The most overt fruit expression is seen in examples from Marlborough in New Zealand but most of these need to be drunk within a year of the vintage. Bright gooseberryish Sauvignon for immediate drinking is also made in Chile’s Casablanca Valley and good vibrant, nettly Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa is on the increase. Some of the best Australian examples of Sauvignon Blanc have very ripe gooseberry fruit with a hint of tropical flavours; it is also sometimes blended with Sémillon. California offers both fresh, more herbaceous examples and riper, melon and fig versions capable of some age. North-East Italy provides high quality Sauvignon with good structure but more restraint. Reasonable examples come from northern Spain and Austria too though the latter are usually best when unoaked. Sauvignon Blanc is also important in combination with Sémillon for Bordeaux’s sweet wines.
Savagnin A grape best known for the production of Vin Jaune, the speciality of the Jura region. It can also form a part of some of the best dry whites of the region but impresses too when produced varietally. A naturally firm structure can be enhanced by the intelligent use of oak cradling, with intense citrus and mineral fruit that becomes more nutty with age.
Scheurebe German crossing that can produce intensely flavoured whites from Spätlese levels and higher. Balance and ripeness are essential to rich and succulent wines with a piercing blackcurrant, grapefruit or peach character. Known as Samling 88 in Austria.
Schiava One and the same as Vernatsch and Trollinger (in Germany’s Württemberg). Good light, attractive reds as Alto Adige DOC varietals or under the subzone of Santa Maddalena.
Schioppettino Native of Italy’s Friuli, this obscure grape with high acidity but a spicy, wild berry fruit intensity, has recently been treated seriously by one or two dedicated producers.
Schönburger A white variety with a pink tinged skin producing attractive, fruity wines from early riepening grapes. As a result it is popular in cool climates and can be found in England, Western Oregon, the western stretches of Washington State as well as British Columbia and its native Germany.
Sémillon Almost all great Sémillon comes from either of two sources: France or Australia. In Bordeaux Sémillon is made both dry, in usually oak-aged blends with Sauvignon Blanc (as it is in Bergerac), or sweet where it is typically the dominant component in all its great sweet wines. Botrytis enrichment is the key to the power, flavour richness and complexity of the best long-lived Sauternes and Barsac. Lesser appellations can also make attractive sweet wines and some good examples come from neighbouring Monbazillac. The classic Australian Sémillon comes from the Hunter Valley. Though increasing rare, unoaked wines become remarkably toasty and honeyed with a decades’ age or more. Oaked-aged examples are made to give more immediate pleasure; those from the Margaret River are usually combined with Sauvignon Blanc. Just a few rich, sweet Australian examples are also made. New Zealand and South Africa have had some success with dry examples of the grape. Elsewhere there are small plantings in Washington State, where some icewine is made, California, Chile and Argentina.
Sercial One of Madeira’s noble varieties that translates into the driest palest style. Its usually high voltage acidity can prove too much for some palates but the wines can be superb (and very ageworthy) when the balance is right. There are also plantings on the Portuguese mainland where the variety is referred to as Esgana or Esgana Cão.
Seyval Blanc Decent quality hybrid grape that manages to get ripe in the coolest of winemaking countries. Can show good weight and an attractively herbal, appley, citrusy freshness. The best examples come from England, Canada and the eastern US.
Shiraz Australian name for the French grape Syrah but also favoured by some South African producers. Australia produces a galaxy of styles from the powerful, American-oaked blockbuster to more elegant, more Rhône like expressions aged in French oak. Every region produces a different stamp whether Hunter Valley, Clare, Barossa, Eden Valley, McLaren Vale, Grampians, Heathcote, Great Southern or one of many other exciting areas to which is added the interpretation and quality achieved by individual producers. Sparkling Shiraz is an Australian speciality and not as frightening as it sounds though a tannic finish can mar some flavousome examples. South Africa also has an increasing number of high quality examples. Also see Syrah.
Siegerrebe German white variety which ripens early and produces good sugar concentrations 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/Sylvaner The majority of good Silvaner comes from Germany’s Franken region while that given the French spelling, Sylvaner, comes from Alsace. A relatively neutral grape it can take on real richness and and a smoky, spicy flavour in the latter (especially when produced from old vines) while the German examples can show more of a minerally, nuanced subtlety – an intriguing earthy, appley character. Occasional good examples are produced in most other German regions but also in Italy’s Alto Adige and (as Johannisberg) in Switzerland’s Valais and occasionally in Australia.
Sousón is a minor red variety and a native of Spain’s Galician wine regions of Rias Baixas and Ribeiro.
Spanish Torrontés see Torrontés. Spätburgunder see Pinot Noir. Subirat refer to Macabeo.
Sumoll Relatively rare red grape, grown in northern Spain’s Conca de Barberá DO and in other areas near Barcelona, including Penedès. It contributes quality to red blends and is also found in rosados.
Sylvaner see Silvaner.
Syrah The home of Syrah is in the northern Rhône where a range of appellations give the most classic expression to one of the most exciting red grapes in the world. Those showing the most aromatic, smoky, white pepper and herbs expression come from Côte Rôtie (where they often include a little Viognier); broader, more powerful, minerally versions come from the hill of Hermitage. Many good examples also come from the surrounding appellations of Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas and Saint-Joseph. Syrah is also made varietally in the southern Rhône but more often is used to complement Grenache. As well as being important in Provence many of the best wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon are either based on it or include a significant percentage. Some very good varietal Syrah also comes from Italy where it is also added in small amounts to an increasing number of reds. Spain and Portugal also have good quality interpretations of the grape but Australia apart (also see Shiraz) the best Syrah outside of France comes from the US, primarily California but also Washington State and increasingly Oregon. A few good examples of Syrah also come from South Africa, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina.
Susumaniello This is another yet another exciting grape being revived in southern Italy, in this instance in Puglia. The quality of the reds based on it (from Tenute Rubino and others) suggest more examples will follow.
Tannat Vine from France’s basque country, most important in Madiran where its powerful tannins need to be softened. Also an important component in other reds from this south-west corner of France – such as Irouléguy. Widely grown too in Uruguay but its few decent quality examples have yet to show real consistency. There are small amounts also to be found on California’s Central Coast, Argentina and Australia
Teroldego Extremely localised red grape grown on the gravelly soils of the Campo Rotaliano in Italy’s Trentino region. From low yields it produces an impressive smoky, minerally black-fruited red capable of long ageing. Seems certain to have potential elsewhere.
Tempranillo Spain’s leading red grape and a first class one though that has not always been apparent going by the quality from the most famous appellation based on it – Rioja. The grapes need to be concentrated and retain acidity, something more often achieved in Ribera del Duero (as Tinto Fino or Tinta del País) where the best powerful blackberry and black plum reds are among Spain’s very best. Tempranillo is also important in many other regions including Toro (as Tinta de Toro) Central Spain (as Cencibel) and Costers del Segre (as Ull de Llebre) –– both varietally or as blends. Tempranillo Peludom is a strain of the variety, naturally low-yielding and of high quality. As Tinta Roriz it is extremely important both in the production of Port but also as a component in Douro reds where its splendid aromatic complexity is sometimes fully realised. It is also important both varietally and in blends in several other Portuguese regions where there has recently been a massive increase in planting. In Alentejo in southern Portugal (as Aragonês) it is usually combined with Trincadeira and can develop into deep, savoury reds with age. The variety can also be found in the Roussillon as Ull de Llebre and has potential in Australia, California’s Central Coast, Chile, Argentina and the Umpqua Valley in Oregon.
Tempranillo Blanco White grape, a natural mutation of Tempranillo and found in Rioja. It produces wines with good depth and potentially rich extract. Tricky to grow and very sensitive to powdery mildew.
Tempranillo Peludom see Tempranillo.
Timorasso Little known variety transformed into varietal examples of good body and exotic fruit character by a growing band of producers in Piedmont’s Colli Tortonesi. Made both oaked and unoaked.
Tinta Amarela Another of the more significant and interesting varieties of the Douro. Though productive it can be difficult to maximise its quality and is consequently disliked by some growers. Also appears in some blends from the Dão and Alentejo.
Tinta Barroca Important component of much Port and red Douro blends giving good colour, perfume and a certain earthiness usually from cooler slopes (in order to prevent raisining). Also one of the leading grapes for fortified styles (and some gutsy table wines) in South Africa.
Tinta de Toro see Tempranillo.
Tinta del País see Tempranillo.
Tinta Negra Mole All but the best Madeira tends to be based on this one, prolific grape variety. Only those Madeira that state one of the noble varieties on the label now come from them. Good Madeira however can be produced from Tinta Negra Mole if yields are kept down and high standards are maintained.
Tinta Roriz/Aragonês see Tempranillo
Tinto Cão Little planted yet one of the important quality grapes of the Douro (one of the five most recommended) undergoing a small revival due to its perceived quality. Low-yielding and difficult to manage successfully it is prized for its ability to age and the greater class that comes with it.
Tinto Fino see Tempranillo
Tocai Friulano see Friulano.
Torrontés Argentine white grape which is grown using the same name in Spain 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 and grown at altitude retains a naturally fresh acidity. Small plantings can also be found in Chile.
Touriga Franca The backbone of much Port and usually blended with Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional amongst others. Also important in table wines from the Douro. It has even been made varietally but a profusion of such examples seems unlikely as it usually lacks the definition and distinction of Touriga Nacional and the potential stylish complexity of Tinta Roriz. If sourced from old vines, however, it can show great class and complexity. Previously known as Touriga Francesa.
Touriga Francesca see Touriga Franca.
Touriga Nacional The most fashionable grape in Portugal’s Douro. Increasingly made varietally both in the Douro and most other Portuguese regions. An integral part of most Port blends but often in much smaller percentages than is generally perceived. It is characterised by its deep colour, floral even violet aromas and dark damson plum, mulberry or blackberry fruit and a dash of pepper. Though capable of producing deep, fleshy varietal reds it is usually better complemented by Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and other grapes (as it is when made as port).
Treixadura 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 Red grape, a native of Cataluña and found in the DOs of Costers del Segre and Conca de Barberá. Generally makes crisp, light rosés and is important in the production of rosado Cavas.
Trincadeira Important southern Portuguese grape. It doesn’t like rain and needs to be fully ripe – its spicy, blackberry character forms a vital part of most Alentejo red blends.
Triomphe 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 successful in red blends adding colour in particular.
Trousseau Important variety in the Jura, particularly Arbois for red wines. Produced both varietally and in blends it is often firm and structured with a tendency to being too tough but the best examples need to be kept.
Uva di Troia Potentially high quality variety of Puglia, particularly around Castel del Monte. Its intriguing complexity and ageing potential together with the current revival in Puglian viticulture should ensure it becomes better known.
Verdejo Spanish variety of greatest importance in the continental climate of Castilla y León and in particular Rueda where attractive herbal scented whites are produced. The best examples have decent structure and some ability to age, notably barrel fermented examples. More than holds its own against Sauvignon and Viura and also found in Toro and Cigales.
Verdelho Another of the noble varieties of Madeira that arguably produces the best style of all. A lightly honeyed and preserved citrus character togther with its vibrancy, refinement and general versatility secure its appeal. Known in the Douro as Gouveio, a component of Niepoort’s fin dry white Redoma. There are significant plantings in Australia for often very attractive relatively inexpensive dry whites. It is also cultivated in Galicia in Spain where is is known as Verdello.
Verdello see Verdelho.
Verdicchio Leading variety in Italy’s Marche region on the Adriatic coast. Made both oaked and unoaked (but usually better without) it can produce flavoursome versatile whites of good body, texture and acidity. Although they can last remarkably well only rarely do they add a great deal more complexity.
Verdil A white grape found on the south eastern Mediterranean Spanish coast in Valencia and Alicante.
Vermentino Lemony, herb-scented Italian variety that shows at its best on the Tuscan coast and in the north of Sardinia. The best are extremely stylish and a delight to drink young if only rarely showing more depth or weight. The Piemonte grown Favorita is a relative. Outside Italy there are plantings in Languedoc-Roussillon, in Patrimonio in Corsica and in the small appellation of Bellet in the hills behind Nice
Vernaccia Refers to any number of different unrelated grapes in Italy. The Vernaccia of San Gimignano is dry, with some character and style in the best examples.
Verduzzo Verduzzo Friulano, widely grown in North-East Italy, can be made into a refined sweet wine when late-harvested or from dried grapes. One small zone, Ramandolo, has recently been granted DOCG status.
Vespaiolo Named for the vespe (wasps) drawn to its sweet grapes in the autumn, this white grape is responsible for the late-harvested and passito style sweet whites of one famous producer (Maculan) in Italy’s Veneto. It also produces attractive dry whites.
Vidadillo see Crespiello.
Vijariego 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. Shows lots of citrus and herb-spiced character in its best renditions.
Viognier There is no other Viognier quite like the best Condrieu (in the northern Rhône). From this small appellation the wine is opulent, lush and superbly aromatic – rich in apricot and peach with floral, blossom, honeysuckle and spice. Most are dry and best drunk young though a few age quite well, especially when they have acquired an enhanced structure from delicate oak treatment. One or two examples are made from late-harvested grapes. Viognier has become increasingly important in the southern Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, sometimes made varietally but as often injecting some perfume and fruit into a blend. There’s a little in Italy, Austria and Greece. In California, Virginia and Australia there are a fair number of good examples but only handful of these have the concentration and balance to suffice as a substitute for Condrieu. There are also significant plantings in Chile and Argentina and also now a few in Uruguay.
Viura see Macabeo.
Weissburgunder see Pinot Blanc.
Welschriesling White grape with a poor reputation due to the nasty whites produced from it in