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Key Grape Varieties

Group D
by

WSET 4 Diploma Group D

on 14 February 2014

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Transcript of Key Grape Varieties

Nebbiolo
Barbera
Syrah/Shiraz
Tempranillo
Grenache Noir/Garnacha
Riesling
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Key Grape Varieties
White Grape Varieties
Red Grape Varieties
Sauvignon Blanc
Growing attributes
Viognier is early budding and therefore at risk from spring frosts, and mid ripening. It ripens best in moderate to warm climates, but the temperature cannot get to high to quickly, otherwise it wil achieve high alcohol levels and lose its floral notes by fully ripening prior to the aromatics developing. It's a low yielding variety (some of the lowest yielding cultivars in France). It's prone to powdery mildew and it's fairly resistant to botrytis bunch rot.
Preffered soils
Traditionally this variety is grown on acid soils, but also adaptable to other soils, as long as there is no water stress. For example: in Condrieu, France it is grown on granite soils, in Côte Rôtie, France on limestone and in California it is usually planted on deep alluvial soils. In shor this cultivar is not a good choice for shallow, dry soils.
Attributes of the grape berry
It has medium-sized leaves with medium clusters. Small round to short-oval berries with a yellow color that turns amber when the grapes have fully ripened. The soft skin of this variety is high in phenol-compounds that can leave an oily component to the wine if left in contact with the skins for too long.
Resulting style of wine
Typical Viognier is a dry, highly aromatic white wine. It can range in weight from light to full-bodied. Traditional notes of Viognier include: peach, pears, nectarine, apricot, orange peel, honeysuckle, jasmine and minerality. It can have a distinct honey flavor on the palate. This dry style of Viognier in not generally a good candidate for aging. There are some late harvest dessert wines made with this cultivar, but because of the acidity dropping quickly when ripening, it makes this types of wines difficult to produce.
Growing attributes
Syrah is a high vigorous cultivar that early ripens and has a short ripening period between veraison and harvest. It is very susceptible to chlorosis. It is susceptible to mites and botrytis bunch rot, especially near harvest. Its canes grow downward rather than upward, therefore it needs careful trellising and training to protect it from winds that could damage the structure of the vine.
Preffered soils
Syrah is unsuited for soils with a high active lime content (chlorosis). Because Syrah is a vigorous variety, a poor soil is a positive. Stony granite is considered as the best soil for Syrah. It is often said to Syrah that the best vineyards are usually towards the top of the hills, where there is less soil, making the vines produce less, but more concentrated grapes.
Attributes of the grape berry
Syrah typically has small berries in small clusters that have a dark-blue thick skins. These skins give the grape its high amount of tannins.
Resulting style of wine
The style of wine and flavors of that wine greatly depend on the climate in which the grapes are grown. In moderate climates (Nothern Rhône, Washington State), the wines tend towards medium to full bodied wines. There are usually medium plus to high tannins and flavors that include blackberry, blueberry, mint and black pepper.

In hotter climates (Barossa Valley, South Africa or parts of California) the resulting wine tends toward more full bodied wines with softer tannins. The fruit flavors can be much more jammy, and there may be more spice notes and prominent notes of leather, tar and earth.

In both climates, it is possible to produce wines with great aging potential.
Growing attributes
It buds early, increasing the risk of spring frost. The grapes relatively thin skins can encourage rot if there is rain at the harvest time. It can suffer from coulure and occasionally Millerandage. It can reach high ripeness levels. It thrives in very diverse climates.
Preffered soils
While Chardonnay can produce quality fruit in a variety of soils and climates, the grapes best expression comes from soils with high concentrations of chalk, clay and limestone. All three of those soil types dominate the best terroir of Burgundy.
Attributes of the grape berry
Leaf: medium-sized, pentagonal, few lobes, exposed petiole, open.
Grape cluster: medium; dense round berries, conical, often has wings, yellowish-green colour. Relatively thin skins.
Resulting style of wine
It can produce quality wines in a wide range of climates. The style varies considerably.
The fruit character of chardonnay is rarely very pronounced; it could be described as non-aromatic. Vineyard management and winemaking techniques can contribute much to the flavor of a Chardonnay wine.
It can go through malolactic fermentation and oak barrel fermentation and ageing.
In cool climates, such as Champagne and Chablis, give very steely wines, medium to light in body, with high acidity and apple, pear or green plum fruit notes. More favorable sites and moderate climate regions result in more citrus, melon and peach flavours flavored wines. In warm and hot climates, the fruit character tends towards exotic flavor such as banana, mango and fig. Chardonnay from very hot regions can be very full bodied, high in alcohol and low in acidity.
Growing attributes
Nebbiolo is a very vigorous cultivar that is high demanding when it comes to climate requirements. The most ideal is a moderate, continental climate ith low ripening month mean temperatures and low temperature extremes. This because of the long growing season of the grape.
Preffered soils
It prefers chalky soils with good drainage; although it can be cultivated in a wide range of soils, but never giving away its true potential in these sites.
Attributes of the grape berry
It's a black-skinned red grape with medium round to short oval berries. It has a good resistance to botrytis, but it has little or no resistance against phylloxera. The cultivar can show its best potential when there is low yielding.
Resulting style of wine
Nebbiolo can show beautiful notes of roses (floral), red fruit, savoury and tar. When they spend time in oak barrels they can develop notes like toast and vanillin. The wines are high in acid and tannin and are medium-high in alcohol with a full-bodied appearance. When aged in the bottle the fruit of these wines will dissappear and makes place for a very meaty/savoury note. Examples of beautiful wines come from Piedmonte in Italy like Barolo and Barbaresco.
Growing attributes
This cultivar can be grown almost everywhere, but it prefers warmer climates. The grapes ripen relatively late. It is highly susceptible to PIerce's disease and very susceptible to downy mildew. Altough it is easy to grow, great wines a hard to make with this cultivar.
Preffered soils
It prefers well-drained, limestone rich soils with a warm southerly aspect. when grown on loamy sands and sands the vines tend to be not vigorous enough. Barbera also has a low tolerance to sodic (alkali) or saline soils.
Attributes of the grape berry
Barbera has medium sized clusters with medium-long oval dark purple-black berries. The grapes ripen relatively late and are relatively high in acid and low in tannins when ripe.
Resulting style of wine
Barbera can be used to make two types of wine. The first is an unoaked version will have a deep colour with notes of red fruit, especially sour cherry. Its high in acid with a medium to light body and low levels of tannin. The second type is an oaked version that is also deep in colour with notes of cherry, plum, oak and spices. Its high in acid and a medium-full body, with low medium levels of tannin.
wines made in these two types don't age very well.
Barbera is often used to blend with other grape varieties, contributing to a deep colour and high acid to the blend.
Growing attributes
It is a fruity aromatic grape variety that retains its high acidity. It ripens late but is very hardy making it an ideal source for late harvest wines. The late ripening grape is highly demanding in the vineyards, and is sensitive to grape stalk necrosis, stalk rot and grape Botrytis.
The Botrytis is mainly undesirable - except for noble rot.
Preffered soils
It can grow in different type of soils: slate, quartz, porphyry, volcanic, granitic, limestone, sandstone, clay, loam, alluvial, calcareous and marl.
Attributes of the grape berry
Leaf: medium-sized, circular, with five lobes, coarse surface, very hairy underside
Grape cluster: small but dense, cylindrical, shouldered, usually no wings, small yellowish-green grapes with scar marks.
It is a fruty, aromatic variety that retains its high acidity.
Resulting style of wine
It can produce great wines in a range of styles, in a range of climates. In cool climates, such as Mosel, it can have very fresh grape and apple fruit character, and the high natural acidity is often balanced with some sugar. Late harvested grapes from these regions, and vines grown in warmer regions such as Alsace, Austria and the Claire Valley, result in more citrus and peach fruit notes. Some Australian Rieslings can have a distinct lime character.

Riesling does not benefit from techniques such as malolactic fermentation and oak ageing, which produces extremely complex and elegant dessert wines. Due to their high acidity and intense flavours can age very well, developing notes of honey, smoke, and sometimes petrol.

Classic regions include the Mosel, Nahe, Rheingau and Pfalz in Germany; the Wachau in Austria; Alsace in France; and the Claire and the Eden Valleys in Australia.
Growing attributes
Sauvignon Blanc can thrive in both cool and warm regions. It is a moderate yielding variety with early to mid ripening. It can vigorous so it needs to be planted on low vigorous rootstocks with a not to fertile soil, otherwise the canopy will be uncontrollable. It is susceptible to powdery mildew, black rot and Botrytis bunch rot, but not to downy mildew. When Cordon-trained the vines are especially susceptible to Eutypa dieback.
Preffered soils
It can grow in many soil types, but the best are the ones that are not to deep and fertile, otherwise the vines will grow vigorously.
Attributes of the grape berry
Small compact clusters with small round to short oval green to yellow (when ripe) berries.
Resulting style of wine
The wines made from Sauvignon Blanc are easy to understand and quite recognizable.
In cool climates the wines tend to be dry with pungent vegetal notes and high acidity.
In moderate climates the taste is also dry, but less pungent with notes of stone fruit and medium-high acidity
When the grapes are picked at their ripest notes of elderflower, tropical fruit and passion fruit will develop in the wine.
When the grapes are picked under-ripe notes of grass, tomato and capsicum will develop.
Usually Sauvignon Blanc is used in single varietal unoaked wines. when oak is used it will develop aroma's of sweet spice and honey with a creaminess in the texture of the wine. The oak in these wines will contribute to the texture, body and the overall flavours of the wine, especially for the premium wines.
Sauvignon Blanc is also used in the Fumé Blanc wines from the USA. These wines are usually (but not always) oak-aged Sauvignon Blancs.

But maybe the most known wines are the white of Bordeaux, in these wines Sauvignon Blanc plays a part in a blend with Sémillon. For sweet and dry wines.
Growing attributes
A vigorous an fertile cultivar with early budding thus at risk for spring frost, and mid-ripening. Very susceptible to botrytis bunch rot, powdery mildew and Eutypa dieback. It is somewhat tolerant to Pierce's disease.
Preffered soils
It is very vigorous in fine textured soils (sandy loam to clay loam). It has poor vigour on very sandy soils. The variety prefers volcanic schist soils when producing dry wines and slate, clay and schist soils for sweet wines.
Attributes of the grape berry
Medium to large compact clusters with medium oval yellow-green berries. The grapes retain a high acidity level even at high ripeness levels. The grapes can ripe unevenly so harvesting in tries is wanted to avoid unripe leafy flavours.
Resulting style of wine
In cool climates the and/or early-harvested grapes can make wines that can show notes of Green apple and leafy/vegetal aroma's. It's high in acidity and usually dry.
In moderate climates the wines can be dry medium or sweet with notes of citrus and stone fruit and a high acidity.
Late harvested wines can have notes of tropical and dried fruits, botrytis and honey. When these wines age they develop flavours of toast and honey with a minerality like chalk and steeliness.
Little or no new oak is rarely used when producing one of the above described wines. (exceptions with premium New World wines and Maverick Loire producers)
Due to the unevenly ripening of the grapes the wine can sometimes show both leafy and tropical aromas.
Viognier
Growing attributes
It is a relatively fertile variety with early budding and ripening. It has medium to high yields and can thrive in moderate to hot climates. The cultivar is sensitive to wind and extreme drought. It is susceptible to powdery mildew and Eutypa dieback, but is generally resistant to Botrytis bunch rot.
Preffered soils
Tempranillo prefers all types of soils, but clay soils with limestone and schist are its preference. The clay in the soil can prevent the uptake of water in humid conditions which otherwise could dilute the flavours and colour of the grapes.
Attributes of the grape berry
Medium to large-sized compact bunches of small,pear-shaped, thick skinned grapes that have a deep-blue black colour.
Resulting style of wine
In moderate climates the grapes can deliver wines with notes of strawberry and plum. They have medium-high acidity and medium-high tannins.
In hot climates the wines will show a darker colour and fruit character. The fruit can be jammy. They have medium acidity an tannins.
When the wines get oak-aging and especially American oak notes of coconut and vanillin will be detected. This oak-aging will also give the wine a more meaty, spicy and savoury character.
In some areas (Rioja) the wine ripens with high levels of malic acid and so by products from Malolactic fermentation like soap and creaminess are distinctive.
This cultivar is often blenden with Garnacha, Mazuelo/Carignan/Garnacha and Graciano in Rioja and with Garnacha/Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot in Navarra.
Growing attributes
This variety is early budding but late ripening. It has to be grown in fairly warm climates. It is a vigorous cultivar (less in sandy soils). It is susceptible to downy mildew, phomopsis, Botrytis bunch rot, grapevine bacterial necrosis and grape moth. It may also suffer to millerandage. It has a good drought resistance, but it can suffer alack of magnesium. It has a good resistance to Esca and Eutypa dieback. This makes this a variety that has a remarkable longevity.
Preffered soils
It prefers lightly acid gravelly or stony soils and soils high in limestone.
Attributes of the grape berry
Medium to large clusters with small to medium purple berries. If yields are too high the berries can loose some of its colour. It has potentially very high sugar levels in the berries and a moderate acidity at its best.
Resulting style of wine
In hot climates the wines show notes of red fruit (strawberry) and white pepper. It has a high alcohol level with a full body and soft tannins.
When the grapes are fully ripened they can show notes of baked red fruit, dried fruit with a typical jammy characteristic.
When aged the wines will show caramel, toffee and meat characteristics .
Overall the wines tend to be pale in colour and light in tannins, unless when old vines are used (more structure and body)
Negatively the wines can oxidize quickly due to its lack of tannin/acid structure.
Growing attributes
May be overly vigorous in deep, fertile soils. Prone to poor fruit set, and therefore low yields. Increasing plant density helps improve yield per acre. Early budbreak makes it sensitive to frost and it can be susceptible to disease and therefore needs dry, warm summers. Prefers cooler climate to retain acidity and develop full phenolics.
Preffered soils
Does not like chalky soils. Grows in Alsace, France where the best soils are granite, volcanic basalt and sandstone. Also grown in Germany, Austria, Italy and new world regions including California.
Attributes of the grape berry
Traminer is an older parent variety and “Gewurz” indicates a spiciness/perfume of this variety thought to originate in Alsace. Pinkish, redish skin color of grape used to make floral white wines. Clusters are small and cylindrical and tightly bunching making it susceptible to rot/botrytis. Short bunch stem makes harvesting more difficult. Low acid means that the best expression of this grape is grown in cooler climates.
Resulting style of wine
Rarely blended, rarely oaked, makes wine with characteristic intense perfume and spicy floral aroma. Dry to off dry table wine style sometimes shows a bit of the grapes’ natural bitterness. The tightness of the cluster encourages botrytis which makes this variety a natural candidate for late harvest, dessert style wines.
Cabernet Franc
Growing attributes
Can grow vigorously in many soil types in both cool and warm regions and is best to avoid highly fertile, deep soils. Lower density planting is preferred, as is VSP training. Later budbreak and ripening than Cabernet Sauvignon, but can also tolerate cooler, wetter conditions. Later ripening can often mean that grassy or herbaceous notes may be prominent; thinning after veraision can help even out ripening. As a good producing variety it’s suitable to hillsides.
Preffered soils
Does well in a variety of soils, but prefers well drained, less fertile, less deep sites. Widely spaced planting on moderate to low vigor rootstocks is encouraged to help balance the vines vegetative growth.
Attributes of the grape berry
Clusters are small and berries tend to be small, round and bluish-black in color. Clusters are similar to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but more compact cylindrical clusters. Moderate yielding.
Resulting style of wine
Produces dry red wines with light to medium alcohol and body, medium to low levels of tannin and high acidity, often used in Bordeaux as a blending grape. The grape is used to make rose style wines as well as reds Chinon. In new world regions including California, increased ripeness encourages higher alcohol and bolder tannins.
Gewurztraminer
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