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Different Grape Varieties of the World

This lesson is a part of an audio course Wine Course with an International Expert by Matteo Girardi

In our previous lesson, you learned what the fermentation process is and how a grape is made. Now we will talk about different grape varieties that grow around the world.

One of the most planted grape variety is the Chardonnay. It is a white grape variety, and you can find it in different climates and soils. For this reason, it is present almost everywhere.

Because it grows in different climates, it also has different characteristics.

For example, in the cool Chablis, in the northern part of Burgundy, the Chardonnay has aromas and flavours of apple, lemon and wet stones.

If the climate is warmer like in the southern part of Burgundy, it can have stone fruit aromas like apricot and peach. If the climate becomes even warmer like in some areas of California, it could have even tropical notes of pineapple.

The acidity also varies with the climate, high acidity in cooler climates, lower acidity in warmer regions.

Another important white grape variety is the Sauvignon Blanc. It is an aromatic grape variety. Aromatic means that it yields wines with more intense aromas.

In warm climates it loses its typical pungency. The best wines made from sauvignon blanc are from moderate and cool climates. The Sauvignon Blanc can have aromas and flavours of grass, green bell pepper, elderflower, apple, and passion fruit like in the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

The Riesling is an aromatic white grape variety, and it can produce wines that could be dry, off-dry, medium-sweet, or sweet! A dry wine is a wine with little residual sugar, a sweet wine is a wine with high levels of sugar. The aromas of the Riesling depend on the level of ripeness of the grapes: apple, pear, lemon, lime in just ripe grapes. Riper grapes give aromas of peach, apricot, and pineapple. Sometimes these aromas can become drier, like dried apricots.

Now let’s take a look at the black grape varieties. We start with the Cabernet Sauvignon. It has thick skins and for this reason the wines it produces have deep colour and high tannins. Black fruits are the dominant aromas, like blackcurrant and black cherry. But we can also find some mint. Some herbaceous notes could be present too, like green bell pepper. It has a high level of acidity, and because of all these reasons, the best examples can age very well.

The Merlot is the black grape variety often in blend with_ Cabernet Sauvignon_, to soften its austerity. If the wine is 100% Merlot, it is typically dry with red fruit flavours like red cherry, red plum, strawberry. If you grow Merlot in a warmer climate or you just harvest ripper grapes, you can also have black fruit aromas like black plum.

Pinot Noir is the black grape variety associated with Burgundy. It has thin skins and for this reason generally it has low or medium level of colour and low or medium level of tannins. Strawberry, red cherry, raspberry and floral notes like violet are the main aromas you can find in your wine made with Pinot Noir grapes.

Your task is to taste a wine made entirely from Chardonnay and you have to compare it with a Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc should be perfect).

Then you pour the wines in two different glasses.

You will notice that the Sauvignon Blanc has more intense aromas compared to the Chardonnay. This happens with an aromatic grape variety, like the Sauvignon Blanc. Try also to recognise some aromas!

In our next lesson, you will learn how much information you extract by just looking at the colour of a wine.

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Written by

Matteo Girardi