Grape Varieties and their Characteristics

Grapes for White Wine

Chardonnay (Shar-doe-nay)
  • Butter, melon, apple, pineapple,
    vanilla (if oaked).
  • White burgundy grape, the white
    champagne grape and the best white
    grape of the new world
  • One of the easiest to grow and to vinify

  • This white grape variety originated in the Charente district of France.
  • Used to make the base wine for Cognac distillation.
  • Generally light and off-dry (slightly sweet).

Sauvignon Blanc (
So-veen-yawn BlahN)
  • Distinctive aromatic grassy or gooseberry, Can be austere or buxo.
  • Best in Sancerre, blended with Sémillon in Bordeaux. Great success in New Zealand,
    now over planted everywhere

Torrontes (
  • White grape originally from Galicia in Spain,
  • Gaining popularity and in Argentina for producing racy and aromatic white wines of
    real character.

Sémillon (
  • Honey, orange, lime
  • Sauternes, Increasingly important for Graves and white Bordeaux & Hunter Valley

Chenin Blanc (
  • fresh, delicate floral characteristics
  • light, well- balanced wines ranging from dry to off-dry (slightly sweet) styles.

Grapes for Red Wine

Carbernet Sauvignon (Cab-air-nay So-veen-yawN)
  • Blackcurrant, black cherry, tobacco, jammy, spice, and tannic
  • King of red grape and available worldwide
  • Needs aging, benefitting from blending with Merlot, Carbernet Franc or Syrah

Shiraz (
Shee-rahz for new world) / Syrah (See-rah for old world)
  • The great grown red grape giving tannic purple peppery wine which can mature
  • Very important as Shiraz in Australia
  • Planted Internationally.

Merlot (
  • Adaptable grape, making the grape fragrant,
    gorgeous, succulent, minty, blackcurranty
    and plummy wines of Pomerol and (with
    Carbernet Franc) St.-Emilion
  • Easy to drink and not tanin
  • International Varietal

Pinot Noir (
Pee-noe Nwahr)           
  • Light, elegant, intense, and perfumed with raspberry or strawberry fruit and violets.
  • The sulkiest, trickiest fine-wine grape in the world especially red burgundy.
  • Shows exciting promise in California, Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Tasmania and NZ

Zinfandel (
  • Fruity adaptable grape peculiar to California
  • Black berry like and sometimes Metallic flavour
  • Can be gloriously lush

Nebbiolo (
  • Noble grape of Northwestern Italy's Piedmonte region, source of such powerful and
    ageworthy red wines as Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara.
  • Typical aroma and flavor descriptors include "violets" and "tar" and intense black fruit.

Carignan (
  • Widely present in the south of France, in longuedoc-roussillon and provence.
  • Black fruits, black pepper, licorice.
  • Deep color, high tannins and alcohol.

Grenache (
  • Strong grape with tobacco, pepper and blackberry
  • Grown especially in Southern France, Spain, California, and South Australia
  • Stand-alone or blended