By Grape Variety

By Grape Variety


Chardonnay

Chardonnay

The most fashionable grape in the world, it is able to be grown in almost any climate. Its flavours range from light, green fruit, steely flavours in cooler climate areas such as Chablis, to fuller citrus, and tropical fruit flavours, with that typical butteriness in hotter areas, Chardonnay is particularly suited to oak ageing, especially in Burgundy and the New World.
Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc

Traditionally known for wines from the Loire Valley, particularly Vouvray and Touraine, Chenin is now a worldwide variety. It is succesful in Australia, Argentina, and especially in South Africa. Here it was known for ages as Steen, before they adopted its original name.

Colombard

First used to make Cognac although not as popular for that purpose as Ugni Blanc. The Colombard grape has a high natual acidity making it a good choice for blends. If given the proper treatment Colombard can produce crisp whites with citrus fruits and a pleasant minerality. The best Colombards come from south west France where it has been "rediscovered" and it is the prime constituent of Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne. It is also an important varietal in South Africa where it somehow lost the "d" on its voyage there, and is often shown as Colombar. Also produces good quality wines in Australia.

Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer has the dubious distinction of being the easiest variety to recognise and the most difficult to spell. The grapes have a distinct pinkish edge to their skins and produce white wines with a strong floral aroma and a hint of a lychee nut flavour. It is often regarded as being similar in style to Riesling. Its "home" is Germany and Alsace, but  is now grown in as many countries in the new world as in Europe. It does well in the cool coastal regions of the western USA, in Australia and in New Zealand.
Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio (Gris) is a mutation of Pinot Noir, and its grape skins can be anything from greyish blue to brownish pink. It produces rich, almost oily wines in Alsace, yet light, spritzy examples in northern Italy and across eastern Europe. Whilst it can be neutral in flavour, well made Pinot Grigio has good fruit and spicy elements. Leave the juice on its skins and it produces a light rosé

Riesling

Riesling is sadly associated with cheap, unexciting German wines that thankfully went out of fashion along with flares and tank tops. Riesling is now making a comeback, particularly in the cooler climate regions of the New World, such as Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley in South Australia, Margaret River in Western Australia, and the South Island of New Zealand. Medium dry style with good acidity, lots of lemony/lime characters, and totally fruit driven. When mature offers a pleasant background of honeyed sweetness.

Sauvignon Blanc

The natural home of Sauvignon is the Loire Valley in France, with its most famous wine being Sancerre. It is also a major component of White Bordeaux. The grape has now travelled to other parts of the world, with excellent Sauvignons being produced in the cooler parts of the New World. New Zealand is arguably making some of the world's finest Sauvignons, where the wines have a trademark gooseberry flavour, along with tropical fruit, grapefruit and grassiness. The vines of Chile, being free from Phylloxera, produce a unique style, and together with those of South Africa are fast developing a world class reputation.

Sémillon

Sémillon is one of those solid, journeyman grape varieties that, while important, never seems to attract the limelight in the way that the likes of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling do. This second-tier status is reinforced by its tendency to be blended, rather than marketed as a varietal. Sémillon's home is in the South West of France, and more particularly Bordeaux, where it is the most widely planted white grape. Most commonly it is blended: the classic Bordeaux white is a mix of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and often a dash of Muscadelle. It this blend that also makes the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac, when the grapes are left to shrivel on the vine, yielding small quantities of extremely concentrated juice. However, outside of France, Sémillon makes very good dry table wines. Areas such as the Hunter Valley of Australia makes possibly Australia's most interesting white wines. Elsewhere in Australia, Sémillon is often used as a blending partner for Chardonnay, where it contributes a crisp, citrussy edge to what might otherwise be overly flabby plonk. And Semillon/Sauvignon blends are common in Western Australia, Elsewhere in the new world, Sémillon can perform very well, with good wines now being made in Washington State, USA, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa. Shows good lemon and lime citrus notes, plus tropical fruit flavours, and can display toasty elements without being oaked.

Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano)

Trebbiano is Italy’s most widely-planted vine and is present in central and southern Italy alone in nearly eighty D.O.C. appellations, both red and white. It is the main grape of the blend of so many famous Italian white wines; Soave, Frascati, Verdicchio, and Orvieto, to name just a few. Known as Ugni Blanc in France, it is grown throughout the Midi, but is mostly used is as a base wine for the distillation of Cognac and Armagnac, though it is now making a comeback as a table wine in Gascogne. Also grown in most warm- to hot-climate viticultural areas of the world.

Verdejo

One of Spain's higher quality white grape varieties, originating in North Africa, and spread to the Rueda region in about the 11th Century, possibly by the Moors. For most of this time Verdejo languished in obscurity until the 1970s when he winemaking company Marqués de Riscal began to develop a fresher style of white wine based on Verdejo. It is most successfully cultivated in high altitude vineyards where the soils are calcareous and well drained. Wines labelled "Rueda" must contain 50% Verdejo; the remainder is typically Sauvignon Blanc or Macabeo. Wines designated "Rueda Verdejo" must contain 85% Verdejo, and are often 100% Verdejo. Typically Verdejo dominated wines are crisp with soft, creamy, nutty overtones, and sometimes accompanied by notes of honey

Verdelho

Verdelho is a white wine grape grown throughout Portugal, though mostly associated with the island of Madeira, where it gives its name to one of the four main types of Madeira wine. At the turn of the 20th century it was the most widely planted white grape in Madeira. Its main success as a table wine though has come from the New World, particularly Australia, where it is one of the niche white wine varieties. Verdelho from Western Australia is fresh and fruity, sometimes with a honeysuckle vein. From Langhorne Creek, it has a soft and flavoursome palate with tropical flavours such as pineapple and guava. And from the Hunter Valley, the variety expresses a spiciness, both on the nose and the palate. In general, if the variety is picked early, it will exhibit citrus and herbaceous elements. If it is picked late, rich fruit flavours will be dominant.

Viognier

Highly fashionable, but very difficult to grow. Its wines have unusual aromas of perfume and apricots, peaches and blossom. Rich in flavour with a hint of spice. Originally from the northern Rhône, it has transferred successfully to the New World, with Australia, Chile and South Africa producing stunning examples. It has also made the shorter journey down to the Languedoc, where it makes some excellent Vin de Pays.

Viura (Macabeo)

Viura is the white grape of the Rioja region in Spain, but often goes by the synonym of Macabeo in other Spanish regions. Fairly light bodied and almost florally perfumed when young, but with age develops an exotic fruit character. Macabeo is also one of the main constituent grapes of Cava.