RED GRAPE VARIETALS
Labeling the wines according to their varietals helps the consumer know what to expect when they select a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Zinfandel. For a U.S. wine label to bear the name of the variety, it must be made with no less that 75% of that grape variety in the total blend.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON (cab-er-NAY soh-veen-YOHN) A primary grape variety grown throughout the world also one of the most important of several grape varieties used in red wine blends such as Meritage. The flavors of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape include Blackberry, black raspberry, black currant, bell pepper, eucalyptus, mint, black olive, green olive, earth, mushroom, chocolate, cocoa, molasses, smoke, plum, cedar, tobacco, licorice, graphite. Depending on the vintage, good Cabernet Sauvignon can age for decades.
MERLOT (merh-LOH) Is extensively grown throughout the world. High-quality Merlot wines are medium to dark red in color, rich, and fruity. The flavors of the Merlot grape are of black currant, cherry, and mint. Merlot wines are rounder and more supple than Cabernet Sauvignons and usually can be enjoyed much earlier.
PINOT NOIR (PEE-noh-NWAHR) Is a grape variety that is very difficult to grow in the United States. It is widely grown in the region of Burgundy, France. The flavors are Cherry, raspberry, strawberry, prune, plum, pomegranate, coffee, spice, coriander, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, earth, smoke, mushroom, "barnyard", caramel, allspice, violets, lavender, jasmine, cocoa, sausage, citrus.
ZINFANDEL (ZIN-fan-del) Is considered California’s red-wine grape. The flavors are Blackberry, raspberry, jam, cherry, port, plum, chocolate, olive, bell pepper, cloves, black pepper, spice.
SANGIOVESE (SAN-gee-oh-VAY-SEE) Cherry, raspberry, red plum, blackberry, cinnamon, dried flowers, vanilla, pepper, truffle, smoke, chamomile, rose petal, tar, coffee, anise.
SYRAH (see-RAH) Blackberry, black currant (cassis), black raspberry, black plum, white pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, anise, prune, oak, soy, chocolate, smoke, sausage, toast, violets
CABERNET FRANC (KA-behr-nay Frank) This grape is related to Cabernet Sauvignon, with more fruit-basket style fruit and less tannin. Less long-lived than its cousin, Cabernet Franc brings an herbal note ranging from slightly tobacco-flavored to pungently leafy. Used in Bordeaux, especially in Pomerol, but important in the Médoc as a blender. 100% Cabernet Franc wines are offered elsewhere in the world, notably in the Loire Valley where Chinon is the pinnacle.
GAMAY (GAH-may) Raspberry, strawberry, cinnamon, cloves, rose petal, jasmine, violets, cranberry, mineral.
BORDEAUX BLENDS (borh-DOH) The red wines of Bordeaux, all made of a blend from three and sometimes five permitted red grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The best red Bordeaux wines are slow to mature and need several years in the bottle to age gracefully.
BARBARESCO (bar-bah-RESS-koh) A wine from the village of Barbaresco, made from the Nebbiolo grape. This wine must be aged for two years, one year in wood. The Barbaresco Riserva must be aged for three years, one year in wood. These wines have rich, spicy flavors with notes of cherry, tar and perfume.
BAROLO (Ba-roll-lo) Outstanding red wine from the district of Piemonte in Northern Italy. Produced from the Nebbiolo grape. A robust red wine that can age for many years. By D. O. C. law Barolo must be aged in wood for a minimum of two years, if aged four or more years in wood it is allowed to be called Riserva.
BRUNELLO (Brew-nel-lo dee Mawn-tal-chee-no) This is a rare red wine from the district of Tuscany. Named for the Brunello grape, a clone of the Sangiovese grape. By law the wine cannot be sold until it is at least four years old, if aged five or more years it may be sold as a Riserva. The flavors are sweet cherry with leather tones.
GRENACHE (gren-osh) Grenache’s roots are in Spain, where it is called Garnacha, but it is planted throughout southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, and the Southern Rhône regions, where it’s blended with Cinsault and Carignan. It is the backbone of the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it is blended with as many as twelve other grapes.
Tomorrow we will post some white grapes.