Wine Notes: Grape Varieties (red)
Welcome to the second part of Grape Varieties. This time it’s all about core group of red grape varieties. Let’s start with Barbera, shall we?
Red Grape Varieties
Barbera (pronounced bar-bear-ra) is an Italian variety with low tannins and high levels of acidity. It’s an interesting wine because it tastes both rich and light-bodied. And the reason behind that is this: colour wise it’s dark, almost black. However, it has certain notes like strawberry and sour cherry which are a sign of light-bodied wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon (pronounced cab-er-neigh so-vin-yon) is one the world’s most prestigious grape varieties. It’s known for its finesse and heartiness. The grape itself is quite robust, grown almost across every region in Australia. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Frans in Bordeaux region in France and with Shiraz in Australia.
Cabernet Franc (pronounced cab-er-nay fronk) is medium-bodied grape variety whose origins likely to be from the Basque country of France. It’s popular for its savory, capsicum-like flavours, medium-high acidity and mouth-watering taste. Cabernet Franc is an excellent food wine.
Grenache (pronounced gren-ash) is possibly the most grown variety in the world. Popular for its typical dark purple colour with aromas of red plum, spice, cherry, raspberry, ground ginger and black pepper. Grenache is often blended with Shiraz and Mataro.
Malbec (pronounced mal-bek) Originally developed in Bordeaux, Malbec has had a second coming of sorts. This is a delicate grape that thrives in the warm sun and high altitude of Mendoza, Argentina. Malbec is a dark, inky colour with flavours of dark fruits and plenty of spice. It’s fast gaining popularity for its juicy fruit flavours and food-pairing potential, especially and Argentinean-style steak.
Merlot (pronounced merlow) is a variety which originates from Bordeaux region in France. It’s quite popular for its soft, juicy characters when made into wine. Generally known for primary characters of plum, cherry, spice, blackcurrant, mint, violet, chocolate, tobacco, raspberry and mulberry.
Nebbiolo (pronounced neb-bee-o-low) is one of the finest Italian grapes, Piedmont being the best area. It’s aromatic, powerful, full of tannin and acidity and dried rose, leather, cherry and anise are its dominant aromas. Nebbiolo has excellent aging potential.
Pinot Noir (pronounced pee-no- n’wah) is a favourite varietal across the world with its smooth, light flavour with mineral tannins. Lighter-bodied than many other varietals and often reflects the terroir of where it’s grown. The nose of Pinot Noir runs from cherries through wild strawberry and raspberry and is grown widely across Australia.
Sangiovese (pronounced san-geo-vays-ee) is an Italian variety. It’s one of my favourite savoury and earthy varietals with its cherry flavours. Some say it also has subtle notes of tomato but you be the judge of it. Sangiovese is quite versatile when it comes to food and wine pairing. It goes nicely with tomato based dishes as well as olive oil. I believe Italians know what they’re doing with this varietal.
We call it Shiraz (pronounced shee-raz) in Australia, they call it Syrah (pronounced si-rah) in France. It’s bold, intense and full-bodied with jammy fruit flavours. Generally known for primary characters of spice, plum and pepper. In Australia, it’s often blended with other varieties.
Tempranillo (pronounced temp-er-rin-el-loh) is a Spanish variety which has been cultivated for over 2000 years, especially in Rioja region. This varietal produces wines which are known for their structure and tannins, and can be full-bodied but a touch lighter than shiraz. Tempranillo has excellent aging potential.
Zinfandel (pronounced zin-fan-del) is lighter in colour in comparison to Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. But surprisingly it’s bolder with its moderate tannin and high acidity. To make it even bolder, bigger and oilier, Zinfandel usually have high alcohol levels.