Wine grapes: Graciano

Graciano (grah sih-ahn-oh) is primarily a Spanish variety. Although it is not one of the major varieties used in bulk wines, there are a few thousand hectares of Graciano in the Ebro Valley where, along with Carignan and Tempranillo, it is an important component in the appellation wines of Rioja and Navarra. In France the variety is called Morrastel and is recommended in the south, but little remains, possibly because of its relatively low yield. The area of Graciano in Australia is very small. The variety should not be confused with the so-called Morrastel of South Australia, which is really Mataro, nor with the Mourastel imported from California, which is Carignan. In Algeria, large areas of Mataro were mistakenly called Morrastel. Xeres imported from California proved to be Graciano.

Graciano produces a red wine that is strongly coloured and high in acid and tannin, and ages well. The wines are full-bodied, of high quality and with a delicate bouquet.

Source: Vines for Wines. A Wine Lover’s Guide to the Top Wine Grape Varieties. By George Kerridge and Angela Gackle

Red Wine Grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most well-known member of the Carmenet family of grape cultivars. Its renown comes from its involvement in most Bordeaux wines (and equivalents). Other members of the family include Merlot and Malbec. Their inclusion in Bordeaux blends moderates the tannin content donated primarily by Cabernet Sauvignon. The tendency of Merlot to mature more quickly has made it a popular substitute for Cabernet Sauvignon. Under optimal conditions, Cabernet Sauvignon yields a fragrant wine possessing a black-currant aroma. Under less favorable conditions, it generates a predominant bell-pepper aroma. Cabernet Sauvignon probably is the offspring of an accidental crossing between grapes related to, if not identical with, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc.

Gamay noir is the primary, white-juiced, Gamay cultivar. Its reputation has risen in association with the popularity of Beaujolais wines. Crushed and fermented by standard procedures, Gamay produces a light red wine with few distinctive characteristics. However, when processed by carbonic maceration, it yields a distinctively fruity wine. Most of these features come from the grape-berry fermentation phase of carbonic maceration.

Nebbiolo is generally acknowledged as producing the most highly regarded red wine in northwestern Italy. With traditional vinification, it produces a wine high in acid and tannin content that requires years to mellow. The color has a tendency to oxidize rapidly. Common aroma descriptors include tar, violets, and truffles.

Pinot noir is the most famous Noirien grape variety. It is particularly environmentally sensitive, producing its typical fragrance (beets, peppermint, or cherries) only occasionally. The cultivar exists as a varied collection of distinctive clones. Usually, the more prostrate, lower-yielding clones produce the more flavorful wines. The upright, higher-yielding clones are more suited to the production of rose and sparkling wines. The South African cultivar, Pinotage, is a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut.

Sangiovese is an ancient cultivar consisting of many distinctive clones, grown extensively throughout central Italy. It is most well known for the light- to full-bodied wines from Chianti, but also produces many fine red wines elsewhere in Italy. Under optimal conditions, it yields a wine possessing an aroma considered reminiscent of cherries, violets, and licorice. Sangiovese is also labeled under local synonyms, such as Brunello and Prugnolo, used in producing Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines, respectively.

Shiraz (Syrah in France) has become famous for yielding a deep red tannic wine with long aging potential in Australia. This has helped Syrah regain the prominence it once held in the Rhone Valley of France. Its wines are peppery with aspects reminiscent of violets, raspberries, and currants.

Tempranillo is probably the finest Spanish red-grape variety. Under favorable conditions, it yields a delicate, subtle wine that ages well. It is
the most important red cultivar in Rioja. Outside Spain, it is primarily grown in Argentina. It usually goes under the name Valdepenas in
California. Tempranillo generates an aroma distinguished by a complex, berry-jam fragrance, with nuances of citrus and incense.

Zinfandel is extensively grown in California. Its precise origin is unknown, but is clearly related to several Austrian, Croatian, and Hungarian varieties (Calo et al., 2008). This variety occurs under a variety of synonyms, such as Primitivo in Italy and Crljenak kastelanski in Croatia. Zinfandel is used to produce a wide range of wines, from ports to light blush wines. In rose versions, it shows a raspberry fragrance, whereas full-bodied red wines possess rich berry flavors.

Extract from: Wine Tasting. A Professional Handbook. By Ronald S. Jackson

Wine Grapes: Grenache


Grenache (gren-ahsh) is a very important variety in southern Europe. There are large plantings in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha. It is particularly famous in the the north-east of Spain, in the wine regions of Somontano, Penedés and Priorat (Catalonia). The wines of Grenache are very popular in Barcelona. In France the area of Grenache was around 87 000 ha in 1988, and has no doubt continued to increase at the expense of the high-yielding but poor-quality variety Aramon. It is an important variety on the island of Sardinia, where it is called Cannonao. Grenache is also grown in Sicily and the southern Italian mainland under the names of Granaccia and Alicante. Other than Europe and remnant plantings in Algeria, the only appreciable areas are in California and Australia. Australia has 2322 ha, most in South Australia and the rest fairly evenly divided between New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

The wines of Grenache are low in colour by Australian standards and age rapidly. Nevertheless, Grenache is regarded as a premium variety in France if it is not cropped too heavily. It is used alone only in rosé and fortified wines. For red table wines it is usually combined with varieties such as Carignan and Mataro, which provide acid and tannin, and Cinsaut which gives smoothness. Shiraz, Clairette, Mourvedre and other varieties may also be included to increase complexity.

Source: Vines for Wines. A Wine Lover’s Guide to the Top Wine Grape Varieties. By George Kerridge and Angela Gackle