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 WINE PRIMER

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White Wine Grapes 

Variety Origin Wine Style
Aligoté French Poor man's Burgundy. Pale, light, crisp wine. Not for ageing.
Alvarinho Portugal Produces Vinho Verde, very crisp, light with a slight prickle.
Auxerrois French Acidic, very dry and full-bodied, Chablis-esque.
Bacchus German Silvaner-Riesling and Müller-Thurgau cross. Flowery, light Muscat bouquet, low acidity. Used mainly for blending.
Bual Madeira Sweet full-bodied fortified wine, burnt amber colour, fig-like bouquet.
Chardonnay French Ranges from crisp, apple-like flavours in cool climates to caramel, pineapple and tropical tones in warm areas. Buttery, toasty or clove-like finish. Ages well, usually in oak.
Chasselas E. Europe Light, crisp wine with delicate bouquet in Switzerland. Rather insipid elsewhere.
Chenin Blanc French Honeyed, high-acid wines in the Loire. Lots of fruit. Ages many years. California model is much softer and fruitier.
Colombard French (French Colombard) Originally a cognac grape, now grown in California for soft, flowery wines.
Emerald Riesling California High-yielding Muscadelle-Riesling cross. Aromatic, soft, fruity.
Fumé Blanc   Californian name for Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon/Sémillon blend. Fruitier and less grass than Loire model.
Folle Blanche French Once a major grape in Cognac. High acid, not much character.
Furmint Hungary Principal grape of Tokay. Can be dry, off-dry or sweet. Apple or apricot and toffee bouquet, depending on style.
Gewürztraminer Italy (Traminer) Spicy, exotic, rose petal and lychee bouquet. Can be dry (Alsace) or sweet (Germany, California).
Grüner Veltliner Austria Fresh, lively, fruity, dry wine for drinking young as in the "new" wine, Heurige.
Hárslevelü Hungary Spicy, full-bodied, aromatic. Good for sweet wines.
Jacqučre French Light, very dry and brisk wine from Savoie.
Kerner German Red Trollinger-Riesling cross. Spicy, fruity wines with good acidity.
Malvasia Greek Produces lusciously sweet dessert wines in warm climates and crisp dry ones in northern areas. The grape of the sweet Madeira, Malmsey.
Marsanne French Deep-coloured, high-alcohol wines blended with the more delicate Roussanne in the Rhône.
Morio-Muscat German Silvaner-Pinot Blanc cross. Full-bodied, fruity with spicy bouquet.
Müller-Thurgau German Riesling-Silvaner cross (or two clones of Riesling). Less acidic than Riesling, soft and fruity. Lacks ageing potential.
Muscadelle French Perfumey grape used to add bouquet to some white Bordeaux (Sauvignon and Sémillon).
Muscadet French (Melon de Bourgogne) Light, pale, racy wines with lively acidity from the Loire.
Muscat Greek Perfumed, raisiny bouquet with a characteristic spiciness in dessert wines. Can also be made dry as in Alsace and Australia.
Palomino Spanish The grape of sherry. Neutral wine, low acidity.
Pedro Ximenez Spanish A very sweet white wine used in sherry, thought to be Riesling.
Picolit Italian Dessert wine grape of Friuli. Deep coloured, rich, slightly bitter.
Pinot Blanc French (Pinot Bianco/Weissburgunder) Relative of Chardonnay but with less character and ageing potential. Best from Alsace.
Pinot Gris E. Europe (Pinot Grigio/Tokay d'Alsace/Ruländer) Full-flavoured, elegant wines capable of ageing.
Riesling German (Johannisberg Riesling/Rhine or White Riesling) Finest German variety, capable of making a range of wines from steely dry to toffee-sweetness. Floral nose, keen acidity.
Rkatsiteli E. Europe All-purpose grape producing ordinary table wines, dessert wines and fortified wines.
Sacy French The name suggests it all. Frisky, tart wine from Chablis region.
Savagnin French Makes Sherry-style vin jaune in the Jura region.
Sauvignon Blanc French Makes grassy, gooseberry, smoky wines in the Loire and accompanies Sémillon in dry and sweet wines of Bordeaux. California model is rounder and fruitier and fig-like.
Scheurebe German Silvaner-Riesling cross. Aromatic, fruity with pronounced acidity. Best in dessert style.
Sémillon French Honey and apricot bouquet when affected by Botrytis. Blended with Sauvignon Blanc for dry Bordeaux. Lacks acidity.
Sercial Portugal Produces the driest, lightest style of Madeira. Good acidity. Ages well.
Seyval Blanc French Hybrid. Makes dry wines with a grassy, green plum flavour. Does not age well.
Silvaner Austrian Mild, neutral wine with good body. Useful for blending.
Trebbiano Italian (Ugni Blanc/St. Emilion) Pale colour, high acid, medium-body, shy bouquet.
Verdelho Spain Produces off-dry Madeira and soft, nutty table wines.
Verdicchio Italian Crisp, dry wines with a hint of bitterness.
Vidal French Hybrid. Good fruit and acidity. Can range in styles from tart Sauvignon Blanc to Late Harvest and Icewine.
Viognier French Rich, elegant, full-bodied, floral-peachy wine, especially in the Rhône. Capable of ageing.
Viura Spanish (Macabeo) Fruity aromatic wines with high acidity capable of wood ageing.
Welschriesling French (Riesling Italico/Laskiriesling/Olaszriesling) Floral, zesty, versatile but not as elegant as Johannisberg (White or Rhine) Riesling.

 

 

 

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