The Cheese and Wine Shops guide to Grape types…
Cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is a lighter, fresher version best known in the red wines of the Loire (Saumur in particular) and Bordeaux. Examples from northern Italy and eastern Europe are also worth looking out for. The grape is low in tannin and brings notes of raspberry and herbs to a wine with an almost 'crunchy' freshness. A perfect summer drink.
Flavor Hints: raspberry, herbs
The best known of the Cabernets, and the undisputed heavyweight champion of the Médoc. Small and tough-skinned, its grapes produce deeply-coloured wine, full of blackcurrant, mint and green pepper flavours. The tannins present enable some to age for decades. Cabernet Sauvignion is the Number One red grape variety of the world, it is best known in Bordeaux, but now has been transported to almost every wine-growing region in the world. It frequently appears as a single variety, but more often it partners Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot or, in Australia, Shiraz.
Flavour Hints: blackcurrant, mint, green pepper, wood, pencil shavings
The most widely planted grape in Spain (where it is known as Garnacha) and the second most planted variety in the world, Grenache produces soft, velvety, high alcohol wines with sweet, ripe blackberry flavour. This makes it good for blending, adding charm and softness to Rioja and weight and fruit to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It appears all over the southern Rhône and southern France where it also makes luscious, rich, fortified wines (in Roussillon, Maury and Banyuls) and oceans of fruity rosé.
Flavour Hints: blackberry, herbs
A noble variety grown in Madeira, where it is also known as Malvasia Candida. It was the first of the noble varieties to be planted in Madeira back in the 16th century. It is high yielding, and a late ripening grape which performs best on well-drained soils and in well-sheltered low altitude sites. It is often blended with Tinta Negra Mole in the production of Malmsey which is the island's richest and sweetest wine. See The Cheese and Wine Shop Madeiras here!
A grape very much in demand, thanks to Bordeaux's Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. In California, where it makes concentrated Bordeaux-style wines, it has almost cult status. Supple, soft, rich and velvety even when young and, when used in a blend, smoothes the way for more tannic varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
Flavour Hints: plum, creamy toffee, rose petals, tea
Quirky Pinot Noir can make some of the world's greatest wines, breathtaking in complexity. One of the trickiest and most unpredictable grape varieties to grow too, it performs best in the relatively cool climate of Burgundy. Producers all over the world have tried to emulate these superb examples, but few succeed. Some of the most successful attempts come from New Zealand, California, Tasmania, the Loire and north-east Italy. New Zealand Pinot Noirs are recognized as being truly class leading; try our Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir.
Flavour Hints: raspberry, strawberry, game
Before the 1970`s, Syrah was little known outside the northern Rhône and Australia, where it was and still is that continent's most widely-planted red grape. Since then, thanks to a surge in popularity, it has been planted thoughout the southern Rhône and southern France and is viewed as an 'improver' among the oceans of lesser-thought-of varieties such as Cinsault and Carignan. A noble variety producing dark, complex, long-lived wines with powerful, rich berry fruit, particularly in the northern Rhône's Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Flavour Hints: blackberry, herbs, black pepper, leather, tar
Meaning 'early ripener', Tempranillo is a master of disguises at home in Spain - known as Tempranillo in Rioja, Navarra and Aragón, Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Cencibel in the centre and Ull de Llebre throughout Catalonia. It is Spain's most noble variety, making stylish wines with strawberry and sour cherry flavours that combine perfectly with the flavours of oak in the Reserva and Gran Reserva wines. A small amount is also grown in Portugal and Argentina.
Flavour Hints: strawberry, cherry
Tinta Negra Mole
The hallmark of the Viognier grape is the scent of spring blossom and jasmine and the rich flavours of apricot and peach. Ripening in warm sunshine, it can become quite heady and exotic with spicy undertones and plenty of body. Because of its spicines sand body, it can be confused in blind tastings with Alsace Pinot Gris.