Chapter 9.2. General View on Red Grapes Varieties

Gaglioppo

Gaglioppo is a red wine grape that is grown in southern Italy, primarily around Calabria. The vine performs well in drought conditions but is susceptible to oidium and peronospera. The grape produces wine that is full-bodied, high in alcohol and tannins with a need for considerable time in the bottle for it to soften in character. It is sometimes blended with up to 10% white wine.

Gaglioppo has previously been thought to be of Greek origin, but recent studies using DNA profiling instead indicate an Italian origin. It was previously claimed that it was introduced to southern Italy around the same time as the Aglianico vine.

An Italian study published in 2008 using DNA typing showed a close genetic relationship between Sangiovese on the one hand and ten other Italian grape varieties on the other hand, including Gaglioppo. It is therefore likely that Gaglioppo is a crossing of Sangiovese and another, so far unidentified, grape variety.

Gamay

Gamay is a purple-colored grape variety used to make red wines, most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley around Tours. Its full name is Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. It is a very old cultivar, mentioned as long ago as the 15th century. It has been often cultivated because it makes for abundant production; however, it can produce wines of distinction when planted on acidic soils, which help to soften the grape’s naturally high acidity.

The Gamay grape is thought to have appeared first in the village of the Gamay, south of Beaune, in the 1360s. The grape brought relief to the village growers following the decline of the Black Death. In contrast to the Pinot Noir variety, Gamay ripened two weeks earlier and was less difficult to cultivate. It also produced a strong, fruitier wine in a much larger abundance.

In July 1395, the Duke of Burgundy Philippe the Bold outlawed the cultivation of the grape, referring to it as the “disloyal Gaamez” that in spite of its ability to grow in abundance was full of “very great and horrible harshness”, due in part to the variety’s occupation of land that could be used for the more “elegant” Pinot Noir. 60 years later, Philippe the Good, issued another edict against Gamay in which he stated the reasoning for the ban is that “The Dukes of Burgundy are known as the lords of the best wines in Christendom. We will maintain our reputation”.

Gamay is a very vigorous vine which tends not to root very deep on alkaline soils resulting in pronounced hydrological stress on the vines over the growing season with a correspondingly high level of acidity in the grapes. The acidity is softened through carbonic maceration, a process that also gives the wine tropical flavors and aromas, reminiscent of bananas.

Gamay-based wines are typically light bodied and fruity. Wines meant to be drunk after some modest aging tend to have more body and are produced by whole-berry maceration. The latter are produced mostly in the designated Crus areas of northern Beaujolais where the wines typically have the flavor of sour cherries, black pepper, dried berry and raisined blackcurrant.

Grenache

Grenache (pronounced gren-ash) (in Spanish, Garnacha, in Catalan, Garnatxa) is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain, the south of France, and California‘s San Joaquin Valley. It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. It tends to lack acid, tannin and color, and is usually blended with other varieties such as Syrah, Carignan and Cinsaut.

Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape where it is typically over 80% of the blend. In Australia it is typically blended in “GSM” blends with Syrah and Mourvèdre. Grenache is also used to make rosé wines in France and Spain, notably those of the Tavel district in the Côtes du Rhône. And the high sugar levels of Grenache have led to extensive use in fortified wines, including the red vins doux naturels of Roussillon such as Banyuls, and as the basis of most Australian fortified wine.

Grenache or Garnacha (as it is known in Spain) most likely originated in the region of Aragon in northern Spain, according to ampelographical evidence. Plantings probably spread from the original birthplace to Catalonia and other lands under the Crown of Aragon such as Sardinia and Rousillon in southern France. An early synonym for the vine was Tinto Aragonés (red of Aragon). The grape is known as Cannonau in Sardinia, where it is claimed that it originated there and spread to other Mediterranean lands under Aragon rule.  Grenache, under its Spanish synonym Garnacha, was already well established on both sides of the Pyrenees when the Roussillon region was annexed by France. From there the vine made its way through the Languedoc and to the Southern Rhone region where it was well established by the 19th century. Despite its prevalence in nearby Navarra and Catalonia, Garnacha was not widely planted in the Rioja till the early 20th century as vineyards were replanted following the phylloxera epidemic.

Grenache was one of the first varieties to be introduced to Australia in the 18th century and eventually became the country’s most widely planted red wine grape variety until it was surpassed by Shiraz in the mid 1960s. Early Australian Grenache was a main component in the sweet fortified wines that was the lynchpin of the early Australian wine industry. In the 19th century, California wine growers prized the vine’s ability to produce high yields and withstand heat and drought conditions. The grape was extensively planted throughout the hot San Joaquin Valley where it was mainly used as a blending component for pale, sweet jug wines. In the late 20th century, the Rhone Rangers movement brought attention to the production of premium varietal Grenache and Rhone style blends modeled after the Grenache dominate wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In the early 20th century, Grenache was one of the first Vitis vinifera grapes to be successfully vinified in during the early development of the Washington wine industry with a 1966 Yakima Valley rosé earning mention in wine historian Leon Adams treatise The Wines of America

Girò

Girò is a red Italian wine grape variety that is grown on Sardinia and used mostly in the production of fortified wines. Wine historians and ampelographers have speculated that the grape has Spanish origins and may have been brought to Sardinia in the 15th century.

Graciano

Graciano is a Spanish red wine grape that is grown primarily in Rioja. The vine produces a low yield that are normally harvested in late October. The wine produces is characterized by its deep red color, strong aroma and ability to age well. Graciano thrives in warm, arid climates.

Grand Noir de la Calmette

Grand Noir de la Calmette is a red wine hybrid grape created by Henri Bouschet as a cross between Aramon and Petit Bouschet. The grape was named after the breeding station it was developed at, Domaine de la Calmette. The grape acts as a teinturier in adding color to wines that it is blended into but is paler than other choices such as Alicante Bouschet. The vine tends to bud late and has a high productivity but with some susceptibility to powdery mildew.

Grignolino

Grignolino is a red Italian wine grape variety commonly grown in the Piedmont region. It makes light colored wines and rosés with very fruity aromas, strong acidity and tannins. The name Grignolino derives from the word grignole which means “many pips” in the local Piedmontese dialect of the Asti region. The abundance of pips, or seeds, contribute to the strong, bitter tannins associated with the wine. Modern winemaker try to avoid the excess tannins with gentle and slow pressings. Grignolino has two Denominazione di origine controllata (DOCs) that produce wine from it – Asti and Monferrato Casale.

Gropello

Gropello is a red Italian wine grape variety planted primarily in the Lombardy region.

Grolleau

Grolleau or Grolleau Noir is a red French wine grape variety grown primarily in the Loire Valley of France. The name is derived from the French word grolle, meaning “crow” and is said to reflect the deep black berries of the Grolleau vine. The grape is most commonly made into rosé wine, particularly when it is grown in the Anjou region where is the primarily grape of the Rosé d’Anjou wine. Grolleau wines tend to be low in alcohol and have high acidity.

Gros Verdot

Gros Verdot is a red wine grape that originated in the Gironde region of France. Despite the similar name, ampelographers believe there is no relation between this grape and Petit Verdot. The grape is not widely cultivated with some plantings in France and Argentina. The grape produces tart wine and is an acceptable component of Meritage blends.

Helfensteiner

Helfensteiner is a dark-skinned German wine grape crossing of the species Vitis vinifera, that was created in 1931 with the crossing of Frühburgunder (Pinot Précoce Noir) and Trollinger (Schiava Grossa). It was created by August Herold at the grape breeding institute in Weinsberg in the Württemberg region.

The name of the variety is derived from that of the castle ruin Helfenstein close to Geislingen an der Steige.

A relatively small amount of Helfensteiner is cultivated in Württemberg, 19 hectares (47 acres) in 2008 (and less than 1 ha in the rest of Germany combined).It produces red wines of a fruity character, and rosé wines. The reason for the variety’s limited popularity with growers is its very variable yield, which is due to its susceptibility to flowering problems.

Helfensteiner was later, in 1955, crossed by Herold with Heroldrebe to produce the much more successful Dornfelder. The variety Hegel shares the same parentage as Dornfelder.

Heroldrebe

Heroldrebe is a red German wine grape variety produced by crossing Blauer Portugieser and Lemberger. It was created by August Herold at the grape breeding institute in Weinsberg in the Württemberg region in 1929, and was named after him.

One of Heroldrebe’s drawbacks is its relatively late ripening; it is harvested at about the same time as Pinot Noir. Heroldrebe was grown on a total of 155 hectares (380 acres) in Germany in 2008, with a decreasing trend. There were 99 hectares (240 acres) in Palatinate, 32 hectares (79 acres) in Rheinhessen, and 23 hectares (57 acres) in Württemberg.In Palatinate it is typically used to produce light, almost pinkish, colored wines.

Humagne Rouge/Cornalin d’Aoste

Cornalin d’Aoste or Humagne Rouge is a variety of red wine grape.It was named after the Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy where it is presumed to have originated, but where it is now almost extinct.It is primarily grown in the Valais region in Switzerland, where it is called Humagne Rouge, and the total Swiss plantations of the variety in 2009 stood at 128 hectares (320 acres).The wines produced from the variety are wild, rustic and high in tannin.

That Cornalin d’Aoste and Humagne Rouge are in fact the same variety was established by DNA profiling at Changins in Switzerland and Aosta in Italy. At the same time, it was established that it is not related to the white variety Humagne Blanche. Researchers at UC Davis later established that Cornalin d’Aoste is an offspring of Rouge du Pays, also known as Cornalin du Valais.

Joubertin

Joubertin is a red French wine grape variety that was historically grown in the Savoie wine region of southeast France. The grape was once prized for its productivity and high yields but its plantings have declined as the grape has fallen out of favor and it is now on the verge of extinction.

Juan García (grape)

Juan García is a minor Spanish red grape variety. It is found mainly in the provinces of Zamora and Salamanca and in the autonomous region of Galicia. It is an authorized variety in the Arribes Denominación de Origen (DO).

Jurançon

Jurançon is the name attributed a red (Jurançon Noir) and white (Jurançon Blanc) French wine grape variety that is grown predominately in Southwest France. According to wine expert Jancis Robinson, both colors produce wines of average to low quality.

Kadarka

Kadarka or Gamza is a dark-skinned variety of grape used for red wine. It has a long history and is popular in Hungary and Bulgaria, where it is known as гъмза Gamza.It used to be an important constituent of the Hungarian red cuvée Bull’s Blood of Eger or Szekszárd, but has long been in decline in Hungarian plantations, to be replaced by Kékfrankos and Portugieser.It is also grown in most other eastern European countries where it is sometimes known as Cadarka or Skadarska.

Kadarka is sometimes assumed to originate from Hungary, but Hungarian legend also claims that it was introduced with the Turkish occupation. Another hypothesis is that is related to the variety Skadarsko, which is supposed to originate from Lake Scutari, which is situated on the border between Albania and Montenegro.

The Kadarka wine is characterised by full, easily recognizable taste, deep aroma and dark or medium dark colour. Kadarka is often used for cuvees including some of the Egri Bikavérs, and also for production of table wines. Best Kadarka is grown in Szekszárd and Villány wine regions of Hungary.

In Bulgaria, Gamza is mostly cultivated in the northwestern and central northern regions, in the Danubian Plain. Until the recent decades, Gamza was the dominant grape varietal in these Bulgarian regions. The main features of Gamza are a large yet compact cluster of small, almost spherical grapes, dark blue to black in colour.

Kalecik Karasi

Kalecik Karasi is a Turkish grape variety and a Turkish wine produced from this grape. This grape and wine are called by the name of area, the Kalecik district of Ankara Province, Turkey. Kalecik Karasi grows successfully near the Kızıl River and is used to make some of Turkey’s best red wine.

Kalecik Karasi grapes are famous for their unique taste, aroma and flavor. This unique quality has been honored with several awards won in International wine contests, and has attracted the interest of Turkish wine lovers. As a result, Kalecik Karasi has become much in demand among domestic wines in recent years. The Kalecik Karasi grape of Central Anatolia, which was on the brink of extinction due to long neglect, has taken its deserved place in viticulture, thanks to the long-term efforts of Turkish and French experts and Ankara University Faculty of Agriculture.[1] Because of high demand, this grape is now also cultivated in other parts of Turkey with similar climatic conditions, such as the high grounds of the Denizli region.

This special prestige wine has the color of a ruby stone, is rich, well-balanced, and has a lasting and aroma of red fruit, vanillin, and cocoa. It has a light, fresh, and elegant finish. The wine has an alcohol ratio between 12 to 14%, and an acidity range of 4 to 7 grams/liter. Best when served at 16 to 18 degrees Celsius (61 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit), it is a good match with any kind of red meat, aged cheese, and especially Chateaubriand

Kekoporto/Blauer Portugieser

Blauer Portugieser is a red Austrian and German wine grape found primarily in the Rheinhessen, Pfalz and wine regions of Lower Austria. It is also one of the permitted grapes in the Hungarian wine Egri Bikavér (Bull’s blood). The cultivated area in Germany covered 4,551 hectares (11,250 acres) or 4.5% of the total vineyard area in 2007. Wine cellars usually vinify a simple light red wine, which is characterized by a fresh, tart and light body. It is also frequently vinified as a rosé. Blauer Portugieser is also very well suited as table grapes, however it is not sold as such because the selling of wine grapes as table grapes is not permitted in the European Union. Since 2000, higher quality wines have been vinified from Portugieser grapes. The use of oak provides additional aromas in order to compete with Bordeaux varieties.

Kotsifali

Kotsifali (Greek: Κοτσιφάλι) is a red Greek wine grape that is indigenous to the island of Crete. It is mainly grown in the Heraklion Prefecture and sporadically on the Cyclades. The grape alone gives moderately red wine with high alcohol content and rich flavor. It is often blended with Mandilaria, yielding a ruby-colored dry wine with pleasant taste and aroma that requires minimal aging.

Kratosija

Kratosija (Macedonian: Кратошија) (also Kratoshija or Kratoshiya) is a red wine grape variety grown in the Tikveš wine-growing region of The Republic of Macedonia. In Macedonia, this variety is commonly mistaken with Vranac, a similar black grape variety from the coastal region of Crmnica, Montenegro.

Lacrima di Morro/Lacrima Nera

Gaglioppo is a red wine grape that is grown in southern Italy, primarily around Calabria. The vine performs well in drought conditions but is susceptible to oidium and peronospera. The grape produces wine that is full-bodied, high in alcohol and tannins with a need for considerable time in the bottle for it to soften in character. It is sometimes blended with up to 10% white wine.

Gaglioppo has previously been thought to be of Greek origin, but recent studies using DNA profiling instead indicate an Italian origin. It was previously claimed that it was introduced to southern Italy around the same time as the Aglianico vine.

An Italian study published in 2008 using DNA typing showed a close genetic relationship between Sangiovese on the one hand and ten other Italian grape varieties on the other hand, including Gaglioppo. It is therefore likely that Gaglioppo is a crossing of Sangiovese and another, so far unidentified, grape variety.

Lagrein

Lagrein is a red wine grape variety native to the valleys of northern Italy in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region, north of Bolzano, near the border with Austria. Along with Marzemino, it is a descendant of Teroldego, and related to Syrah, Pinot noir and Dureza.

The name suggests its origins lie in the Lagarina valley of Trentino. It was mentioned as early as in the 17th century, in records of the Muri Benedictine monastery near Bolzano.

Lambrusco

Lambrusco is the name of both a red wine grape and an Italian wine made principally from the grape. The grapes and the wine originate from four zones in Emilia-Romagna and one in Lombardy, principally around the central provinces of Modena, Parma, Reggio nell’Emilia, and Mantua. The grape has a long winemaking history with archaeological evidence indicating that the Etruscans cultivated the vine.In Roman times, the Lambrusco was highly valued for its productivity and high yields with Cato the Elder stating that produce of two thirds of an acre could make enough wine to fill 300 amphoras.

The most highly rated of its wines are the frothy, frizzante (slightly sparkling) red wines that are designed to be drunk young from one of the five Lambrusco denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) regions: Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco Reggiano, and Lambrusco Mantovano. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Lambrusco was the biggest selling import wine in the United States.During that time the wine was also produced in a white and rosé style made by limiting the skin contact with the must.

Liatiko

Liatiko is a red Greek wine grape variety that is grown on the island of Crete. While the name suggest a relationship with the Italian variety Aleatico, ampelographers currently discount a connection. Historically the grape has been used in blends with Mandelaria and Kotsifali to produce a very alcoholic, sweet red wine that was widely exported by Venetian traders during the Middle Ages.

Limnio

Limnio (LIM-nee-oh) is a red Greek wine grape varietythat is indigenous to the Greek island of Lemnos. The grape has had a long history of wine production that may extend back to Ancient Greece with wine historians widely believing it was the grape variety, Lemnia, that was described by Aristotle as producing the famous red Lemnian wine.According to wine expert Oz Clarke, Limnio is “One of Greece’s most important red vines.

Listán Negro

Listán Negro (also known as Listan Prieto) is a red Spanish wine grape variety that is widely planted in the Canary Islands, particularly on the island of Tenerife where it is a permitted variety in the Denominaciones de Origen (DO) wines of Tacoronte-Acentejo, Valle de la Orotava, Ycoden-Daute-Isora and Valle de Güímar. It is also permitted in the Spanish wine regions of El Hierro, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, La Palma, Lanzarote. Across the Canary Islands more than 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres) are planted to the variety. Listán Negro is the black-skin version of the Palomino grape (Listan Blanco) that used in the production of the fortified wine Sherry.

In 2007, DNA fingerprinting done by the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología in Madrid, Spain discovered that Mission grape that was widely planted in the earliest New World vineyards in the America was a genetic match to Listán Negro. Despite the genetic match, there is enough clonal variation that have occur over the centuries of geographical separation that the Mission grape of the Americas and the Listán Negro grape of the Canary Islands are classified by the Vitis International Variety Catalogue as two separate grape varieties.Part of the variation is likely due to the fact that some of earliest plantings by the Spanish missionaries were from grape seedswhich are the result of pollination and sexual propagation and thus more likely to have slight differences from the parent vine than propagation through cuttings.

Madrasa

Madrasa (Azerbaijani: Mədrəsə, also known as Matrassa and Madrasi) is a pink-skinned red grape variety cultivated in the southern Caucasus at least since the nineteenth century , in particular in Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as several Central Asia countries. Most plantings of Madrasa are found near the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Magarach Ruby

Magarach Ruby or Rubinovyi Magarcha is a red Crimean wine grape variety that is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Saperavi. The crossing was carried out at the Magarach viticultural institute at Yalta, Crimea in 1928 in what was then the Soviet Union.

Magliocco Canino

Magliocco Canino is a red Italian wine grape variety that is predominately grown in the Calabria region of southern Italy. It is often used as a blending grape, often with Gaglioppo of which the varieties are often confused. In the late 20th century century there was just over 1500 ha (3700 acres) of Magliocco Canino planted.

Malbec

Malbec is a variety of purple grape used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins, and are long known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. The French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in the South West France region. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal wine and is being grown around the world.

Called Auxerrois or Côt Noir in Cahors, called Malbec in Bordeaux, and Pressac in other places, the grape became less popular in Bordeaux after 1956 when frost killed off 75% of the crop. Despite Cahors being hit by the same frost, which devastated the vineyards, Malbec was replanted and continued to be popular in that area where it was mixed with Merlot and Tannat to make dark, full-bodied wines, and more recently has been made into 100% Malbec varietal wines.

A popular but unconfirmed theory claims that Malbec is named after a Hungarian peasant who first spread the grape variety throughout France.However the French ampelographer and viticulturalist Pierre Galet notes that most evidence suggest that Côt was the variety’s original name and that it probably originated in northern Burgundy.[2] Despite a similar name, the grape Malbec argenté is not Malbec, but rather a variety of the southwestern French grape Abouriou. Due to the similarities in synonyms, Malbec has also been confused with Auxerrois blanc, which is an entirely different variety.

The Malbec grape is a thin-skinned grape and needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to mature. It ripens mid-season and can bring very deep color, ample tannin, and a particular plum-like flavor component to add complexity to claret blends. Sometimes, especially in its traditional growing regions, it is not trellised and cultivated as bush vines (the goblet system). Here it is sometimes kept to a relatively low yield of about 6 tons per hectare. The wines are rich, dark and juicy.

As a varietal, Malbec creates a rather inky red (or violet), intense wine, so it is also commonly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend. The grape is blended with Cabernet Franc and Gamay in some regions such as the Loire Valley.Other wine regions use the grape to produce Bordeaux-style blends.The varietal is sensitive to frost and has a proclivity to shatter or coulure.

Malvasia

Malvasia [malvaˈziːa] (also known as Malvazia) is a group of wine grape varieties grown historically in the Mediterranean region, Balearic islands, Canary Islands and the island of Madeira, but now grown in many of the winemaking regions of the world. In the past, the names Malvasia, Malvazia, and Malmsey have been used interchangeably for Malvasia-based wines; however, in modern oenology, “Malmsey” is now used almost exclusively for a sweet variety of Madeira wine made from the Malvasia grape. Grape varieties in this family include Malvasia Bianca, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia Negra, Malvasia Nera Malvasia Nera di Brindisi and a number of other varieties.

Malvasia wines are produced in Italy (including Lombardia, Sicily, Lipari, and Sardinia), Slovenia, Croatia, Corsica, the Iberian Peninsula, the Canary Islands, the island of Madeira, California, Arizona, Australia and Brazil. These grapes are used to produce white (and more rarely red) table wines, dessert wines, and fortified wines of the same name, or are sometimes used as part of a blend of grapes, such as in Vin Santo.

Mammolo

Mammolo is a red Italian wine grape that is planted primarily in Tuscany. While its use has been diminishing, Mammolo was historically included in the blended Sangiovese-based wines of Chianti where it contributed a distinctive violet or mammole aroma.In addition to small plantings in the Chianti zone, Mammolo can be found in the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano region of Tuscany and in scattered vineyards throughout Central Italy.

Mandilaria

Mandilaria (Greek: Μαντηλαριά) is a red Greek wine grape variety that is grown throughout the Greek Isles. The grape is often used as a blending component, producing deeply colored wines that are light bodied.

Maratheftiko

Maratheftiko is an ancient grape variety indigenous to Cyprus. It is also known locally as Vambakadha (Βαμβακάδα), Vambakina (Βαμβακίνα), Pampakia (Παμπακιά), Mavrospourtiko (Μαυροσπούρτικο), Aloupostaphylo (Αλουποστάφυλο). It is grown in sparse quantities around the island but mostly in the Pitsilia region. In the 1980s, with the revival of small boutique wineries in Cyprus this variety was rediscovered and its cultivation is slowly on the increase again, as it offers a distinctive character to local wines. Keo, the largest winery on the island has been one of the companies to encourage its growth.

Marselan

Marselan is a French wine grape that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. It was first bred in 1961 near the French town of Marseillan. The vine is grown mostly in the Languedoc region with some plantings on Northern Coast of California. The grape produces a medium body red wine.

Marzemino

Marzemino is a red Italian wine grape that is primarily grown around Isera, south of Trentino. The wine is most noted for its mention in the opera Don Giovanni of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (“Versa il vino! Eccellente Marzemino!”). The vine ripens late and is susceptible to many grape diseases including oidium. Wine produced from the grape has a characteristic dark tint and light plummy taste.  Ampelographers have long theorized that the grape originated in northern Italy. Recent DNA profiling conducted at the research facility in San Michele all’Adige revealed Marzemino to have a parent-offspring relationship with the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine grapes Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Teroldego which gives further evidence to its likely origins in this region.

Madrasa

Madrasa (Azerbaijani: Mədrəsə, also known as Matrassa and Madrasi) is a pink-skinned red grape variety cultivated in the southern Caucasus at least since the nineteenth century , in particular in Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as several Central Asia countries. Most plantings of Madrasa are found near the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Magarach Ruby

Magarach Ruby or Rubinovyi Magarcha is a red Crimean wine grape variety that is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Saperavi. The crossing was carried out at the Magarach viticultural institute at Yalta, Crimea in 1928 in what was then the Soviet Union.

Magliocco Canino

Magliocco Canino is a red Italian wine grape variety that is predominately grown in the Calabria region of southern Italy. It is often used as a blending grape, often with Gaglioppo of which the varieties are often confused. In the late 20th century century there was just over 1500 ha (3700 acres) of Magliocco Canino planted.

Malbec

Malbec is a variety of purple grape used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins, and are long known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. The French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in the South West France region. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal wine and is being grown around the world.

Called Auxerrois or Côt Noir in Cahors, called Malbec in Bordeaux, and Pressac in other places, the grape became less popular in Bordeaux after 1956 when frost killed off 75% of the crop. Despite Cahors being hit by the same frost, which devastated the vineyards, Malbec was replanted and continued to be popular in that area where it was mixed with Merlot and Tannat to make dark, full-bodied wines, and more recently has been made into 100% Malbec varietal wines.

A popular but unconfirmed theory claims that Malbec is named after a Hungarian peasant who first spread the grape variety throughout France. However the French ampelographer and viticulturalist Pierre Galet notes that most evidence suggest that Côt was the variety’s original name and that it probably originated in northern Burgundy.Despite a similar name, the grape Malbec argenté is not Malbec, but rather a variety of the southwestern French grape Abouriou. Due to the similarities in synonyms, Malbec has also been confused with Auxerrois blanc, which is an entirely different variety.

The Malbec grape is a thin-skinned grape and needs more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to mature. It ripens mid-season and can bring very deep color, ample tannin, and a particular plum-like flavor component to add complexity to claret blends. Sometimes, especially in its traditional growing regions, it is not trellised and cultivated as bush vines (the goblet system). Here it is sometimes kept to a relatively low yield of about 6 tons per hectare. The wines are rich, dark and juicy.

As a varietal, Malbec creates a rather inky red (or violet), intense wine, so it is also commonly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux claret blend. The grape is blended with Cabernet Franc and Gamay in some regions such as the Loire Valley. Other wine regions use the grape to produce Bordeaux-style blends. The varietal is sensitive to frost and has a proclivity to shatter or coulure.

Viticulture

Malbec is very susceptible to various grape diseases and viticultural hazards-most notably frost, coulure, downey mildew and rot but the development of new clones and vineyard management techniques have helped control some of these potential problems. When it is not afflicted with these various ailments, particularly coulure, it does have the potential to produce high yields. Too high a yield, as was the circumstance in Argentina until recently with their heavy use of flood irrigation, the wines become more simplistic and lacking in flavor. Malbec seems to be able to produce well in a variety of soil types but in the limestone based soils of Cahors it seems to produce its most dark and tannic manifestation.There are distinct ampelographical differences in the clones of Malbec found in France and in Argentina, with Argentine Malbec tending to have smaller berries.

Regions

Malbec is the dominant red varietal in Cahors where the Appellation Controlée regulations for Cahors require a minimum content of 70%.[6] Introduced to Argentina by French agricultural engineer Michel Pouget in 1868, Malbec is widely planted in Argentina producing a softer, less tannic-driven variety than the wines of Cahors. There were once 50,000 hectares planted with Malbec in Argentina; now there are 25,000 hectares in Mendoza in addition to production in La Rioja, Salta, San Juan, Catamarca and Buenos Aires. Chile has about 6,000 hectares planted, France 5,300 hectares and in the cooler regions of California just 45 hectares. In California the grape is used to make Meritage.[7] Malbec is also grown in Washington State, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, British Columbia, the Long Island AVA of New York, Oregon, southern Bolivia, northeastern Italy and recently in Texas and southern Ontario, and in the Baja California region of Mexico.

France

At one point Malbec was grown in 30 different departments of France, a legacy that is still present in the abundance of local synonyms for the variety which easily surpass 1000 names. However, in recent times, the popularity of the variety has been steadily declining with a 2000 census reporting only 15,000 acres (6,100 hectares) of the vine mostly consigned to the southwestern part of the country. Its stronghold remains Cahors where Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) regulations stipulates that Malbec must compose at least 70% of the blend, with Merlot and Tannat rounding out the remaining percentage. Outside of Cahors, Malbec is still found in small amounts as a permitted variety in the AOCs of Bergerac, Buzet, Côtes de Duras, Côtes du Marmandais, Fronton and Pécharmant. It is also permitted in the Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) of Côtes du Brulhois. In the Midi region of the Languedoc, it is permitted (but rarely grown) in the AOC regions of Cabardès and Côtes de Malepère. There is a small amount of Malbec grown in the middle Loire Valley and permitted in the AOCs of Anjou, Coteaux du Loir, Touraine and the sparkling wine AOC of Saumur where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay. But as elsewhere in France, Malbec is losing acreage other varieties-most notably Cabernet Franc in the Loire.

The grape was historically a major planting in Bordeaux, providing color and fruit to the blend, but in the 20th century started to lose ground to Merlot and Cabernet Franc due, in part, to its sensitivities to so many different vine ailments (coulure, downy mildew, frost). The severe 1956 frost wiped out a significant portion of Malbec vines in Bordeaux, allowing many growers a chance to start anew with different varieties. By 1968 plantings in the Libournais was down to 12,100 acres (4,900 hectares) and fell further to 3,460 acres (1,400 hectares) by 2000. While Malbec has since become a popular component of New World meritages or Bordeaux blends, and it is still a permitted variety in all major wine regions of Bordeaux, its presence in Bordeaux is as a distinctly minor variety. Only the regions of the Côtes-de-Bourg, Blaye and Entre-Deux-Mers have any significant plantings in Bordeaux.

Argentina

While acreage of Malbec is declining in France, in Argentina the grape is surging and has become a “national variety” of sort that is uniquely identified with Argentine wine. The grape was first introduced to the region in the mid 19th century when provincial governor, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, instructed the French agronomist Miguel Pouget to bring grapevine cuttings from France to Argentina. Of the vines that Pouget brought were the very first Malbec vines to be planted in the country. During the economic turmoil of the 20th century, some plantings of Malbec were pulled out to make way for the jug wine producing varieties of Criolla Grande and Cereza. But the grape was rediscovered in the late 20th century as the Argentine wine industry shifted its focus to premium wine production for export. As the Argentine wine industry discovered the unique quality of wine that could be made from the grape, Malbec arose to greater prominence and is today the most widely planted red grape variety in the country. As of 2003 there were over 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) of Malbec in Argentina.

The grape clusters of Argentine Malbec are different from its French relatives have smaller berries in tighter, smaller clusters. This suggest that the cuttings brought over by Pouget and later French immigrants was a unique clone that may have gone extinct in France due to frost and the phylloxera epidemic.Argentine Malbec wine is characterized by its deep color and intense fruity flavors with a velvety texture.While it doesn’t have the tannic structure of a French Malbec, being more plush in texture, Argentine Malbecs have shown aging potential similar to their French counterparts. The Mendoza region is the leading producer of Malbec in Argentina with plantings found throughout the country in places such as La Rioja, Salta, San Juan, Catamarca and Buenos Aires.

United States

Prior to Prohibition in the United States, Malbec was a significant variety in California used mainly for blended bulk wine production. After Prohibition, the grape was a minor variety until it experienced a surge of interest as a component of “Meritage” Bordeaux-style blends in the mid 1990s. Between 1995 and 2003, plantings of Malbec in California increased from 1000 acres (250 hectares) to more than 7000 acres (2,830 hectares). While the appearance of Californian varietal Malbec is increasing, the grape is still most widely used for blending.In California, the American Viticultural Areas (AVA) with the most plantings of Malbec include Napa Valley, Alexander Valley, Paso Robles and Sonoma Valley.

Other regions in California with some plantings of Malbec include Atlas Peak, Carmel Valley, Los Carneros, Ramona Valley, Central Coast, Red Hills Lake County, Chalk Hill, Clear Lake, Diamond Mountain District, Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Rutherford, El Dorado, San Lucas, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Howell Mountain, Sierra Foothills, Knights Valley, Spring Mountain District, St. Helena, Lodi, Stags Leap District, Madera, Suisun Valley, Temecula Valley, Monterey, Mount Veeder, North Coast, Oak Knoll District, Yorkville Highlands, Oakville, Paicines, Clements Hills, Fair Play, Willow Creek, North Yuba, and Yountville.

Seven Hills Winery planted the first vines of Malbec planted in Washington state in the late 1990s in their Windrow vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. Since the turn of the 21st century, several wineries have been experimenting with 100% varietal Malbec as well as using the variety in Meritage blends. In Washington State it is grown predominately in the Columbia Valley and the sub-AVAs of Walla Walla Valley, Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley.

Other AVAs in the United States producing Malbec include the New York appellations of North Fork of Long Island and Finger Lakes; the Oregon appellations of Applegate Valley, Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon, Umpqua Valley and Willamette Valley; the Idaho appellation of the Snake River Valley; the Texas appellations of Texas High Plains and Texas Hill Country; the Virginia appellations of Monticello and North Fork of Roanoke; the North Carolina appellation of the Yadkin Valley; the Michigan appellations of the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula; the New Jersey appellation of the Outer Coastal Plain and the Colorado appellation of the Grand Valley. Additionally there are some plantings in Missouri and Georgia outside of federally delineated appellations.

Other regions

The success of Malbec in Argentina led some producers in neighboring Chile to try their hand at the varietal. Grown throughout the Central Valley, Chilean Malbec tends to be more tannic than its Argentine counterpart and is used primarily in Bordeaux-style blends. The grapevine was introduced to Australia in the 19th century and was mostly a bulk wine producing grape. The particular clones planted in Australia were of poor quality and highly susceptible to coulure, frost and downy mildew. By the mid to late 20th century, many acres of Malbec were uprooted and planted with different varieties. By 2000, there were slightly over 1,235 acres (500 hectares), with the Clare Valley having the most significant amount. As newer clones become available, plantings of Malbec in Australia have increased slightly.

Other regions with some plantings of Malbec include north Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, the Canadian regions of British Columbia and Ontario, Bolivia and Mexico, and Southern Indiana.

Wine expert Jancis Robinson describes the French style of Malbec common in the Libournais (Bordeaux region) as a “rustic” version of Merlot, softer in tannins and lower in acidity with blackberry fruit in its youth. The Malbec of the Cahors region is much more tannic with more phenolic compounds that contribute to its dark color. Oz Clarke describes Cahors’ Malbec as dark purple in color with aromas of damsons, tobacco, garlic, and raisin. In Argentina, Malbec becomes softer with a plusher texture and riper tannins. The wines tend to have juicy fruit notes with violet aromas. In very warm regions of Argentina, Chile & Australia, the acidity of the wine may be too low which can cause a wine to taste flabby and weak. Malbec grown in Washington state tends to be characterized by dark fruit notes and herbal aromas.

The French ampelographer Pierre Galet has documented over a thousand different synonyms for Malbec, stemming in part from its in peak period when it growing in 30 different departments of France. While Malbec is the name most commonly known to wine drinkers, Galet suggest that Côt was most likely the grape variety’s original name and the frequent appearance of Auxerrois as a synonym suggests the northern reaches of Burgundy as being the possible home of the varietal. In Bordeaux, where the variety first gained attention, it was known under the synonym Pressac.

Other common synonyms for Malbec include Agreste, Auxerrois, Auxerrois De Laquenexy, Auxerrois Des Moines De Picpus, Auxerrois Du Mans, Balouzat, Beran, Blanc De Kienzheim, Cahors, Calarin, Cauli, Costa Rosa, Cot A Queue Verte, Cotes Rouges, Doux Noir, Estrangey, Gourdaux, Grelot De Tours, Grifforin, Guillan, Hourcat, Jacobain, Luckens, Magret, Malbek, Medoc Noir, Mouranne, Navarien, Negre De Prechac, Negrera, Noir De Chartres, Noir De Pressac, Noir Doux, Nyar De Presak, Parde, Périgord, Pied De Perdrix, Pied Noir, Pied Rouge, Pied Rouget, Piperdy, Plant D’Arles, Plant De Meraou, Plant Du Roi, Prechat, Pressac, Prunieral, Quercy, Queue Rouge, Quille De Coy, Romieu, Teinturin, Terranis, Vesparo, Côt, Plant du Lot.

Malvasia

Malvasia [malvaˈziːa] (also known as Malvazia) is a group of wine grape varieties grown historically in the Mediterranean region, Balearic islands, Canary Islands and the island of Madeira, but now grown in many of the winemaking regions of the world. In the past, the names Malvasia, Malvazia, and Malmsey have been used interchangeably for Malvasia-based wines; however, in modern oenology, “Malmsey” is now used almost exclusively for a sweet variety of Madeira wine made from the Malvasia grape. Grape varieties in this family include Malvasia Bianca, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia Negra, Malvasia Nera Malvasia Nera di Brindisi and a number of other varieties.

Malvasia wines are produced in Italy (including Lombardia, Sicily, Lipari, and Sardinia), Slovenia, Croatia, Corsica, the Iberian Peninsula, the Canary Islands, the island of Madeira, California, Arizona, Australia and Brazil. These grapes are used to produce white (and more rarely red) table wines, dessert wines, and fortified wines of the same name, or are sometimes used as part of a blend of grapes, such as in Vin Santo.

Most ampelographers believe that the Malvasia family of grapes are of ancient origin, most likely originating in Greece.The name “Malvasia” is generally thought to derive from Monemvasia, a Venetian fortress on the coast of Laconia, known in Italian as “Malvasia”; this port would have acted as a trading center for wine produced in the eastern Peloponnese and perhaps in some of the Cyclades. During the Middle Ages, the Venetians became so prolific in the trading of “Malvasia wine” that merchant wine shops in Venice were known as malvasie.A competing theory holds that the name is derived from the district of Malevizi, near the city of Heraklion (known to the Venetians as Candia) on Crete. In any case, Malmsey was one of the three major wines exported from Greece in medieval times. (For other examples, see Rumney wine and Cretan wine).

Both Monemvasia and Candia have lent their names to modern grape varieties. In Greece, there is a variety known as Monemvasia, evidently named after the port, though now grown primarily in the Cyclades. In western Europe, a common variety of Malvasia is known as Malvasia Bianca di Candia (white malmsey of Crete), from its reputed origin in that area. The Monemvasia grape was long thought to be ancestral to the western European Malvasia varieties, but recent DNA analysis does not suggest a close relationship between Monemvasia and any Malvasia varieties. DNA analysis does, however, suggest that the Athiri wine grape (a variety widely planted throughout Greece) is ancestral to Malvasia.

Mammolo

Mammolo is a red Italian wine grape that is planted primarily in Tuscany. While its use has been diminishing, Mammolo was historically included in the blended Sangiovese-based wines of Chianti where it contributed a distinctive violet or mammole aroma.In addition to small plantings in the Chianti zone, Mammolo can be found in the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano region of Tuscany and in scattered vineyards throughout Central Italy.

Mandilaria

Mandilaria (Greek: Μαντηλαριά) is a red Greek wine grape variety that is grown throughout the Greek Isles. The grape is often used as a blending component, producing deeply colored wines that are light bodied.

Maratheftiko

Maratheftiko is an ancient grape variety indigenous to Cyprus. It is also known locally as Vambakadha (Βαμβακάδα), Vambakina (Βαμβακίνα), Pampakia (Παμπακιά), Mavrospourtiko (Μαυροσπούρτικο), Aloupostaphylo (Αλουποστάφυλο). It is grown in sparse quantities around the island but mostly in the Pitsilia region. In the 1980s, with the revival of small boutique wineries in Cyprus this variety was rediscovered and its cultivation is slowly on the increase again, as it offers a distinctive character to local wines. Keo, the largest winery on the island has been one of the companies to encourage its growth.

Marselan

Marselan is a French wine grape that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. It was first bred in 1961 near the French town of Marseillan. The vine is grown mostly in the Languedoc region with some plantings on Northern Coast of California. The grape produces a medium body red wine.

Marzemino

Marzemino is a red Italian wine grape that is primarily grown around Isera, south of Trentino. The wine is most noted for its mention in the opera Don Giovanni of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (“Versa il vino! Eccellente Marzemino!”). The vine ripens late and is susceptible to many grape diseases including oidium. Wine produced from the grape has a characteristic dark tint and light plummy taste.  Ampelographers have long theorized that the grape originated in northern Italy. Recent DNA profiling conducted at the research facility in San Michele all’Adige revealed Marzemino to have a parent-offspring relationship with the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine grapes Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Teroldego which gives further evidence to its likely origins in this region.

Madrasa

Madrasa (Azerbaijani: Mədrəsə, also known as Matrassa and Madrasi) is a pink-skinned red grape variety cultivated in the southern Caucasus at least since the nineteenth century , in particular in Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as several Central Asia countries. Most plantings of Madrasa are found near the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Mavro

Mavro (Greek: μαύρο, meaning “black”) is an indigenous red grape cultivated on the island of Cyprus. The grape takes its name from its dark colour. The Italian ampelographer, Count Giuseppe di Rovasenda refers to it in 1877 as Cipro Nero (Cyprus black) . An ancient variety, its suitability to the hot Cypriot climate has made it the dominant cultivated vine on the island. It accounts for 70% of cultivated vines . Of note is that Mavro continues to grow on ancient rootstock unlike most mainland European grapes that are grafted on North American rootstock. This is a consequence of Cyprus’ escape from the phylloxera epidemic that had devastated most other European vineyards, in the 19th century.

Mavrud is a Bulgarian wine with a similar name made from mavrud grapes. Recent genotyping has shown that these two varieties (Mavro and Mavrud) are not related .

Mavro grapes are used in the production of several (predominantly red) local wines. Most notably however, Mavro is blended with the Xynisteri grape for the production of Commandaria, a well-known Cypriot dessert wine. It is also used in the production of the spirit zivania

Mavrud

Mavrud (Bulgarian: мавруд, from Greek μαύρος, mavros, “black“) is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines, indigenous to the region of Thrace in Bulgaria.

The grape has been described as a characterful, low-yielding, small-berried and late-ripening grape capable of producing tannic, spicy wine with a potential for ageing.

Siroka Melniska

Siroka Melniska, (Bulgarian: Широка мелнишка лоза), often called Melnik (Мелник, not to be confused with other varieties named after the town), is a red Bulgarian wine grape variety.It is planted primarily near the Greek border. In Bulgarian the grape’s name means “broad leaved vine of Melnik. As a varietal, Siroka Melniska has an affinity for oak which can produce pronounced tobacco notes. The wines are often compared to Châteauneuf-du-Pape with its similar profile of spice and power.

Mencia

Mencía is a Spanish grape variety primarily found in the northwestern part of the country. It is planted on over 9,100 hectares (22,000 acres), and it is primarily found in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras regions.

Most wines produced from Mencía have traditionally been light, pale, relatively fragrant red wines for early consumption. This style of wine was the result of post-Phylloxera plantations on fertile plains, which tended to give high yields but diluted wine. In recent years, much more concentrated and complex wines have been produced by a new generation of winemakers, primarily from old vines growing on hillsides, often on schist soils, in combination with careful vineyard management. This has led to a renewed interest in Mencía and the Denominaciones de Origen using it, such as Bierzo, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and the little-known Liébana.

Since the 1990s, the grape is increasing in popularity, and an increasing number of noted Spanish winemakers are now working with it.

Merlot

Merlot is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to derive from the Old French word for young blackbird, merlot, a diminutive of merle, the blackbird (Turdus merula), probably from the color of the grape. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes in Bordeaux wine where it is the most widely planted grape. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets.This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world’s most planted grape varieties. As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) globally, with an increasing trend.This puts Merlot just behind Cabernet Sauvignon’s 262,000 hectares (650,000 acres).

History

Researchers at University of California, Davis believe that Merlot is an offspring of Cabernet Franc and is a sibling of Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon. The earliest recorded mention of Merlot was in the notes of a local Bordeaux official who in 1784 labeled wine made from the grape in the Libournais region as one of the area’s best. The name comes from the Occitan word “merlot”, which means “young blackbird” (“merle” is the French word for several kinds of thrushes, including blackbirds); the naming came either because of the grape’s beautiful dark-blue color, or due to blackbirds’ fondness for grapes. By the 19th century it was being regularly planted in the Médoc on the “Left Bank” of the Gironde. After a series of setbacks that includes a severe frost in 1956 and several vintages in the 1960s lost to rot, French authorities in Bordeaux banned new plantings of Merlot vines between 1970 and 1975.

It was first recorded in Italy around Venice under the synonym Bordò in 1855. The grape was introduced to the Swiss, from Bordeaux, sometime in the 19th century and was recorded in the Swiss canton of Ticino between 1905 and 1910.In the 1990s, Merlot saw an upswing of popularity in the United States. Red wine consumption, in general, increased in the US following the airing of the 60 Minutes report on the French Paradox and the potential health benefits of wine and the chemical resveratrol. The popularity of Merlot stemmed in part from the relative ease in pronouncing the name of the wine as well as its softer, fruity profile that made it more approachable to some wine drinkers.

Viticulture

Merlot grapes are identified by their loose bunches of large berries. The color has less of a blue/black hue than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and with a thinner skin and fewer tannins. Also compared to Cabernet, Merlot grapes tend to have a higher sugar content and lower malic acid. Merlot thrives in cold soil, particularly ferrous clay. The vine tends to bud early which gives it some risk to cold frost and its thin skin increases its susceptibility to rot. If bad weather occurs during flowering, the Merlot vine is prone to develop coulure. It normally ripens up to two weeks earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Water stress is important to the vine with it thriving in well drained soil more so than at base of a slope. Pruning is a major component to the quality of the wine that is produced. Wine consultant Michel Rolland is a major proponent for reducing the yields of Merlot grapes to improve quality.The age of the vine is also important, with older vines contributing character to the resulting wine.

A characteristic of the Merlot grape is the propensity to quickly overripen once it hits its initial ripeness level, sometimes in a matter of a few days. There are two schools of thought on the right time to harvest Merlot. The wine makers of Château Pétrus favor early picking to best maintain the wine’s acidity and finesse as well as its potential for aging. Others, such as Rolland, favor late picking and the added fruit body that comes with a little bit of over-ripeness.

Major regions

France is home to nearly two thirds of the world’s total plantings of Merlot. Beyond France it is also grown in Italy (where it is the country’s 5th most planted grape), California, Romania( Cramele Rotenberg), Australia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Turkey, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, Mexico and other parts of the United States such as Washington and Long Island. It grows in many regions that also grow Cabernet Sauvignon but tends to be cultivated in the cooler portions of those areas. In areas that are too warm, Merlot will ripen too early.

France

Merlot is the most commonly grown grape variety in France. In 2004, total French plantations stood at 115,000 hectares (280,000 acres).[7] It is most prominent in Southwest France in regions like Bordeaux, Bergerac and Cahors where it is often blended with Malbec. The largest recent increase in Merlot plantations has occurred in the south of France, such as Languedoc-Roussillon where it is often made as a varietal Vin de Pays wine.[6] Merlot can also be found in significant quantities in Provence, Loire Valley, Savoie, Ardèche, Charente, Corrèze, Drôme, Isère and Vienne.[3]

In the traditional Bordeaux blend, Merlot’s role is to add body and softness. Despite accounting for 50-60% of overall plantings in Bordeaux, the grape tends to account for an average of 25% of the blends-especially in the Bordeaux wine regions of Graves and Médoc. Of these Left Bank regions, the commune of St-Estephe uses the highest percentage of Merlot in the blends.[5] However, Merlot is much more prominent on the Right Bank of the Gironde in the regions of Pomerol and Saint-Émilion where it will commonly comprises the majority of the blend. One of the most famous and rare wines in the world, Château Pétrus, is almost all Merlot. In Pomerol, where Merlot usually accounts for around 80% of the blend, the ironclay soils of the region give Merlot more a tannic backbone than what is found in other Bordeaux regions. It was in Pomerol that the garagistes movement began with small scale production of highly sought after Merlot based wines. In the sandy, clay-limestone based soils of Saint-Émilion, Merlot accounts for around 60% of the blend and is usually blended with Cabernet Franc. In limestone, Merlot tends to develop more perfume notes while in sandy soils the wines are generally softer than Merlot grown in clay dominant soils.[3]

Rest of Europe

In Italy, a large portion of Merlot is planted in the Friuli wine region where it is made as a varietal or sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. In other parts of Italy, such as Tuscany, it is often blended with Sangiovese to give the wine a similar softening effect as the Bordeaux blends.Merlot’s low acidity serves as a balance for the higher acidity in many Italian wine grapes with the grape often being used in blends in the Veneto, Alto Adige and Umbria.The Strada del Merlot is a popular tourist route through Merlot wine countries along the Isonzo river.Italian Merlots are often characterized by their light bodies and herbal notes.

In Hungary, Merlot complements Kékfrankos, Kékoportó and Kadarka as a component in Bull’s Blood. It is also made into varietal wine known as Egri Médoc Noir which is noted for its balanced acid levels and sweet taste.In the Eastern European countries of Bulgaria, Moldova, Croatia and Romania, Merlot is often produced as a full bodied wine that can be very similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. In Switzerland, Merlot accounts for nearly 85% of the wine production in Ticino where it is often made in a pale “white Merlot” style. In Spain, winemakers are petitioning authorities to allow Merlot to be a permitted grape in the red wines of the Rioja region. Plantings of Merlot has increased in recent years in the Austrian wine region of Burgenland where vineyards previously growing Welschriesling are being uprooted to make room for more plantings.

United States

In the early history of California wine, the Merlot was used primarily as a 100% varietal wine until wine maker Warren Winiarski encouraged taking the grape back to its blending roots with Bordeaux style blends.In California, Merlot can range from very fruity simple wines (sometimes referred to by critics as a “red Chardonnay“) to more serious, barrel aged examples. It can also be used a primary component in Meritage blends.While Merlot is grown throughout the state, it is particularly prominent in Napa, Monterey and Sonoma County. In Napa, examples from Los Carneros, Mount Veeder, Oakville and Rutherford tend to show ripe blackberry and black raspberry notes. Sonoma Merlots from Alexander Valley, Carneros and Dry Creek Valley tend to show plum, tea leaf and black cherry notes.

In the 1980s, Merlot helped put the Washington wine industry on the world’s wine map. Prior to this period there was a general perception that the climate of Washington State was too cold to produce red wine varietals. Merlots from Leonetti Cellar, Andrew Will, Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle demonstrated that areas of the Eastern Washington were warm enough for red wine production. Today it is the most widely grown red wine grape in the state and accounts for nearly one fifth of the state’s entire production. It is widely planted throughout the Columbia Valley AVA but has earned particular notice from plantings grown in Walla Walla, Red Mountain and the Horse Heaven Hills.Washington Merlots are noted for their deep color and balanced acidity.The state’s climate lends itself towards long days and hours of sunshine with cool nights that contributes to a significant diurnal temperature variation and produces wines with New World fruitiness and Old World structure. Other US regions producing significant quantities of Merlot include New York State‘s Long Island AVA, Virginia‘s Shenandoah Valley AVA and Oregon‘s Rogue Valley AVA.

Other New World regions

In Argentina, Merlot plantings have been increasing in the Mendoza region with the grape showing an affinity to the Tupungato region of the Uco Valley. Argentine Merlots grown in the higher elevations of Tunpungato have shown a balance of ripe fruit, tannic structure and acidty. In New Zealand, plantings of Merlot have increased in the Hawke’s Bay Region, particularly in Gimblett Gravels where the grape has shown the ability to produce Bordeaux style wine.The grape has been growing in favor among New Zealand producers due to its ability to ripen better, with less green flavors, than Cabernet Sauvignon. Other regions with significant plantings include Auckland and Marlborough. In Australia, some vineyards labeled as “Merlot” were discovered to actually be Cabernet Franc (a similar discovery was made in best vineyards of Californian Merlot producer Duckhorn Vineyards). In South Africa, plantings of Merlot has focused on cooler sites within the Paarl and Stellenbosch regions.

Chile and Carménère

In Chile, Merlot thrives in the Apalta region of Colchagua Province. It is also grown in significant quantities in Curicó, Casablanca and the Maipo Valley. Until the early 1990s, the Chilean wine industry mistakenly sold a large quantity of wine made from the Carmenere grape as Merlot. Following the discovery that many Chilean vineyards thought to be planted with Sauvignon blanc was actually Sauvignonasse, the owners of the Chilean winery Domaine Paul Bruno (who previously worked with Château Margaux and Château Cos d’Estournel) invited ampelographers to comb through their vineyards to make sure that their wines were properly identified. Genetic studies discovered that much of what had been grown as Merlot was actually Carménère, an old French variety that had gone largely extinct in France due to its poor resistance to phylloxera. While the vines, leaves and grapes look very similar, both grapes produce wines with distinct characteristics – Carménère being more strongly flavored with green pepper notes and Merlot having softer fruit with chocolate notes. The labeling Chilean Merlot is a catch-all to include wine that is made from a blend of indiscriminate amounts of Merlot and Carmenere. With Merlot ripening 3 weeks earlier than Carménère, these wines differ greatly in quality depending on harvesting.

Mexico

In Mexico, Merlot is cultivated primarily in the Valle de Guadalupe of Baja California, the country´s main wine producing area. Plantings have increased substantially since the 1980s, and cultivation has spread into the nearby areas of Ojos Negros and Santo Tomás.

As a varietal wine, Merlot can make soft, velvety wines with plum flavors. While Merlot wines tend to mature faster than Cabernet Sauvignon, some examples can continue to develop in the bottle for decades. There are three main styles of Merlot-a soft, fruity, smooth wine with very little tannins, a fruity wine with more tannic structure and, finally, a brawny, highly tannic style made in the profile of Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the fruit notes commonly associated with Merlot include cassis, black and red cherries, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, mulberry, ollalieberry and plum. Vegetable and earthy notes include black and green olives, cola nut, bell pepper, fennel, humus, leather, mushrooms, rhubarb and tobacco. Floral and herbal notes commonly associated with Merlot include green and black tea, eucalyptus, laurel, mint, oregano, pine, rosemary, sage, sarsaparilla and thyme. When Merlot has spent significant time in oak, the wine may show notes of caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee bean, dill weed, mocha, molasses, smoke, vanilla and walnut.

White Merlot

White Merlot is made the same way as White Zinfandel. The grapes are crushed, and after very brief skin contact, the resulting pink juice is run off the must to then be fermented. It normally has a hint of raspberry. White Merlot was reputedly first marketed in the late 1990s, and should not be confused with wines made from the white mutant of the grape. In Switzerland, a type of White Merlot is made in the Ticino region but has been considered more a rosé.

Food pairing

In food and wine pairings, the diversity of Merlot can lend itself to a wide array of matching options. Cabernet-like Merlots pair well with many of the same things that Cabernet Sauvignon would pair well with such as grilled and charred meats. Softer, fruitier Merlots (particularly those with higher acidity from cooler climate regions like Washington State and Northeastern Italy) share many of the same food pairing affinities with Pinot noir and go well with dishes like salmon, mushroom based dishes and greens like chard and radicchio. Light bodied Merlots can go well with shellfish like prawns or scallops, especially if wrapped in a protein-rich food such as bacon or prosciutto. Merlot tends not to go well with strong and blue veined cheeses that can overwhelm the fruit flavors of the wine. The capsaicins of spicy foods can accentuate the perception of alcohol in Merlot and make it taste more tannic and bitter.

Milgranet

Milgranet is a red French wine grape variety that is predominately grown in the Toulouse region of South West France. In addition to the red skin variety, there exist a rarer white skin clone known as Milgranet blanc that is often not seen in wine production. According to wine expert Jancis Robinson, Milgranet produces deeply colored wines with a firm tannic structure.

Mission

Mission grapes are a variety of Vitis vinifera introduced from Spain to the western coasts of North and South America in the 16th century by Catholic New World missionaries for use in making sacramental, table, and fortified wines.

Molinara

Molinara is a red Italian wine grape grown primarily in the Veneto region of north eastern Italy. It adds acidity to the blends Valpolicella and Bardolino made with Corvina and Rondinella. The wine’s high propensity for oxidation, coupled with its low color extract, has caused a decline in favor and plantings among Venetian vineyards. There has been debate about whether the grape is purple or blue.

Mondeuse Noire

Mondeuse Noire is a red wine grape that is grown primarily in the Savoy region of France. The grape can also be found in Argentina, Australia, and California. The grape was hit hard during the phylloxera epidemic of the 19th century which nearly wiped out the vine from eastern France. In Savoie the grape is used in blending with Gamay, Pinot Noir and Poulsard where it contributes its dark color and high acid levels to the wine that allow the wines to age well.

French plantations of Mondeuse Noire fell sharply in the 1970s, with just over 200 hectares (490 acres) left in France in 2000. In the early 21st century, it seems the variety has increased somewhat in popularity, as it can give good wines if the planting site is chosen carefully.

Monica

Monica is a red wine grape that is grown primarily in Sardinia and is one of the few grapes that wine regulations allow to appear on the wine label. The vine originated in Spain but is rarely grown there in recent times. The wine made from these grapes tends to be simple wines made to be consumed young.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a red Italian wine grape variety that is most noted for being the primary grape behind the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wine Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane (as well its larger DOC outside of Colline Teramane) and the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) wines of Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno.

It should not be confused with the similarly named Tuscan wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is made from predominantly Sangiovese and is named for the village it is produced in, rather than for containing any Montepulciano grapes in the blend.

The grape is widely planted throughout central and southern Italy, most notably in Abruzzi, Latium, Marche, Molise, Umbria and Apulia, and is a permitted variety in DOC wines produced in 20 of Italy’s 95 provinces. Montepulciano is rarely found in northern Italy because the grape has a tendency to ripen late and can be excessively “green” if harvested too early.

When fully ripened, Montepulciano can produce deeply colored wines, with moderate acidity and noticeable extract and alcohol levels.

After Sangiovese, Montepulciano is Italy’s second most widely dispersed indigenous grape variety. It is a recommend planting in 20 of Italy’s 95 provinces and is a permitted or required grape in the red wines of DOCs in Apulia, Molise, Latium, Umbria, Marche, Emilia-Romagna, Abruzzi and Tuscany. Among the DOCs that are most noted for Montepulciano are Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in Abruzzi, Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno in Marche. Though it is a secondary variety to Uva di Troia in the Castel Del Monte DOC, wine expert Jancis Robinson the character that Montepulciano contributes to the blend as perhaps “its finest incarnation”.

Moreto

Moreto is a red Portuguese wine grape variety that is planted primarily in the Alentejo. As a varietal, the grape makes neutral wines.

Moristel

Moristel is a minor Spanish red grape variety. It is mainly found in the autonomous region of Aragon and is one of the authorized varieties of the Somontano Denominación de Origen (DO). It has medium sized, compact bunches with medium sized, cylindical shaped, berries with a blue hue. Tarditionally it has been used for blending with other varieties to add body and colour to the wine.

Mourisco Tinto

Marufo or Mourisco Tinto is a red Portuguese wine grape that is planted primarily in the Douro DOC. It is a recommended grape in Port wine production.

Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre, Mataró, or Monastrell is variety of wine grape used to make both strong, dark red wines and rosés. It is an international variety grown in many regions around the world.

Mourvèdre produces tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is most successful in Rhone-style blends. It has a particular affinity for Grenache, softening it and giving it structure. Its taste varies greatly according to area, but often has a wild, gamey or earthy flavour, with soft red fruit flavours.

Mujuretuli

Mujuretuli is a red wine grape grown in Georgia. It is also known as Mudzhuretuli, Mudshuretuli and Keduretuli.

Muscardin

Muscardin is a dark-skinned grape variety primarily found in the southern part of the Rhône region. It is primarily noted for being one of the thirteen grape varieties permitted in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. It is a very rare variety, and in 2004 only 0.4% of the appellation’s vineyards were planted with Muscardin.

The resulting red wines tends to have high acid levels, low alcohol, light tannic structure but can show attractive flowery aromas. The color is also lighter than most Rhone varieties and the wine is prone to the wine fault of oxidation.

Black Muscat

Black Muscat is a Vitis vinifera grape variety derived from the crossing of the Schiava Grossa and Muscat of Alexandria varieties. It is known under a variety of local names such as Golden Hamburg, and Black Hamburg in the US; Muscat de Hambourg (or Hamburgh) in France; Moscato di Amburgo in Italy; and Muscat Gamburgskiy in Russia and former Soviet Union countries. Confusingly, Black Hamburg is also used as a synonym for its maternal parent. It is commonly produced as table wine but in California’s Central Valley it has been used in the production of dessert wine. As a dessert wine it can be highly aromatic with a rich coloring. In the US it is grown in wine appellations in California, Virginia, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. In Canada, it is also found on Vancouver Island.

In France, the grape is used chiefly as a component of fruit baskets. In Eastern Europe, the grape produces a light, dry red wine. It is also starting to gain popularity as a table wine component in China.

Horticulturist Walter Clore has postulated that this grape might have been one of the first Vitis vinifera varieties planted in Washington State in the early 19th century.

Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo (Italian), or Nebieul (Piedmontese) is a red Italian wine grape variety predominately associated with the Piedmont region where it makes the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines of Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara and Ghemme. Nebbiolo is thought to derive its name from the Piedmontese word nebbia which means “fog.” During harvest, which generally takes place late in October, a deep, intense fog sets into the Langhe region where many Nebbiolo vineyards are located. Alternative explanations refers to the fog-like milky veil that forms over the berries as they reach maturity or that perhaps the name is derived instead from the Italian word nobile, meaning noble.Nebbiolo produces lightly colored red wines which can be highly tannic in youth with scents of tar and roses. As they age, the wines take on a characteristic brick-orange hue at the rim of the glass and mature to reveal other aromas and flavors such as violets, tar, wild herbs, cherries, raspberries, truffles, tobacco, and prunes. Nebbiolo wines can require years of aging to balance the tannins with other characteristics.

Ampelographers believe that Nebbiolo is indigenous to the Piedmont region though some DNA evidence suggest that it may have originated in Lombardy. In the 1st century AD, Pliny the Elder noted the exceptional quality of the wine produced in Pollenzo region located northwest of what is now the Barolo DOCG zone. While Pliny does not explicitly name the grape responsible for these Pollenzo wines, his description of the wine bears similarities to later descriptions of Nebbiolo-based wines, making this potentially the first notation of wine made from Nebbiolo in the Piedmont region. The first explicit mention of Nebbiolo dates to 1268 where a wine known as “nibiol” was growing in Rivoli near Turin.This was followed by a 1303 account of a producer in the Roero district described as having a barrel of “nebiolo” (sic). In the 1304 treatise Liber Ruralium Commodorum, the Italian jurist Pietro Crescenzi described wine made from “nubiola” (sic) as being of excellent quality. In the 15th century, statutes in the region of La Morra (in what is now the Barolo zone) demonstrated the high esteem that the Nebbiolo vine had in the area. According to these laws, the penalties for cutting down a Nebbiolo vine ranged from a heavy fine to having the right hand cut off or hanging for repeat offenders.

The grape first captured attention outside of Piedmont in the 18th century, when the British were looking for alternative wine sources to Bordeaux due to prolonged political conflicts with the French. However the lack of easy transport from Piedmont to London would keep the Piedmontese wine from having the enduring relationship with British connoisseurship that is associated with Bordeaux, Port and Sherry. Nonetheless, plantings of Nebbiolo continued to grow during the 19th century until the phylloxera epidemic hit. With vast swaths of vineyards devastated by the louse, some vineyard owners decided to replant with different grape varieties with Barbera being a significant beneficiary. Today, Nebbiolo covers less than 6% of Piedmont vineyards.

Relationships with other varieties

In 2004, research at the University of California-Davis and Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige found Nebbiolo to be related to Piedmont to two aromatic grape varieties—the Freisa grape of Piedmont and the French Rhone variety Viognier. This research would further suggest a parent-offspring relationship between Nebbiolo and several Italian grapes including Freisa, Bubbierasco, Nebbiolo Rosé and Vespolina of the Piedmont region and the Lombardy grapes Negrera and Rossola.

Viticulture

Compared to the annual growth cycle of other Piedmontese grape varieties, Nebbiolo is one of the first varieties to bud and last variety to ripen with harvest taking place in mid to late October. In some vintages, producers are able to pick and complete fermentation of their Barbera and Dolcetto plantings before Nebbiolo is even harvested.To aid in ripening, producers will often plant Nebbiolo in the most favored sites on south and southwestern facing slopes, which give the grape more access to direct sunlight.The most ideal location is at an elevation between 150 and 300 meters (500 and 1,000 ft) and must provide some natural shelter from wind. The vine is very susceptible to coulure, especially in there is wet weather during budbreak or flowering. While rains during this period can affect yield and quantity, rains that occur after the period of veraison can have a detrimental effect on quality. The most highly rated bottles of Piedmont Nebbiolo tend to come from vintages that had dry weather during September & October. Nebbiolo needs sufficient warmth to develop the sugars and fruit flavors needed to balance the grape’s naturally high acidity and tannins. In cooler climate areas, such as the subalpine regions of Carema, Valtellina and Donnaz, the grape will produced medium bodied wines with bracing acidity and tannins that need the benefit of a warm vintage.

Nebbiolo doesn’t adapt exceptionally well to various vineyard soil types, preferring soils with high concentration of calcareous marl such as those found on the right bank of the Tanaro river around Alba where Barolo & Barbaresco are produced. The grape can thrive in sandy soils, such as those on the left bank of the Tanaro around the Roero district but the wines from this soil type tend not to be as perfumed-lacking in particular the classic tar aromas. The slightly acidic pH of the sandy Roero soils tend to be produce early maturing wines. The lighter wines of Ghemme and Gattinara come from the acidic porphyry soils of the hills between Novara and Vercelli. In the lower Aosta Valley, the soil has a high concentration of granite while the soils of the Valtellina region of Lombardy are predominately schist based. In addition to soil type, the drainage ability and concentration of magnesium and potassium can have an influencing effect on the type of Nebbiolo wine is produced.

Clones

Like many varieties (such as Pinot noir) with ancient pedigree, the Nebbiolo vine is genetically unstable and prone to mutation. As of 2001, there were around 40 different clones of Nebbiolo identified. The three main clones used for winemaking-Lampia, Michet and Rosé Nebbiolo (which is distinct from the separate grape variety Nebbiolo Rosé). The Rosé Nebbiolo clone has fallen out of favor in recent years due to the light coloring common to its wine. The Lampia clone is the most adaptive of all the clones to different soil types. Due to what may have been excessive inbreeding in the lineage of Nebbiolo, the vine is very prone to grape diseases caused by viruses. The affliction of a virus attack on Lampia clone causesd the cane of the vine to fork, or split, and lead to the development of the Michet clone. This clone is one of the least adaptive to different soil types and produces smaller bunches and lower yields which gives it the potential to produce wines with intense aromas and flavors.In many vineyards, producers will maintain a variety of different Nebbiolo clones rather than isolate a single clone.

Winemaking

In the most notable expression of Nebbiolo, the wines of Barolo, there is division between what is considered a “traditional” approach to Nebbiolo and a “modernist” approach. The roots of both style can trace its history to the early “pre-technology” production of Nebbiolo. Prior to the advent of temperature control fermentation, the late harvest dates for Nebbiolo meant that the wines were begun fermentation when the weather turned cold. These cool temperatures would delay fermentation for several days, extending the maceration period and extraction of phenolic compounds such as tannins. When fermentation did begin, temperatures would reach excessive levels of 95-100 °F (35-38 °C) which would drastically reduce potential aromas and flavors. With the high levels of tannins, these early Barolos would require five years or more aging in oak barrels to soften some of the astringency. Lack of understanding of proper hygiene lead to less sanitary condition than what both traditional and modernist producers maintain today. Those conditions lead to the development of bacterial infection of cement fermentation tanks and old wood barrels that contributed to the development of off flavors and potential wine faults that would require at least 24 hours decanting to alleviate.

Today’s winemaking for both traditionalist and modernist include strict hygiene controls and the use of some modern winemaking equipment. Rather than fall into one hardline camp or the other, many producers take a middle ground approach that utilizes some modernist technique along with traditional winemaking. In general, the traditional approach to Nebbiolo involves long maceration periods of 20 to 30 days and the use of older large botti size barrels. The modern approach to Nebbiolo utilizes shorter maceration periods of 7 to 10 days and cooler fermentation temperatures between 82-86 °F (28-30 °C) that preserve fruit flavors and aromas. Towards the end of the fermentation period, the cellars are often heated to encourage the start of malolactic fermentation which softens some of Nebbiolo’s harsh acidity. Modern winemakers tend to favor smaller barrels of new oak that need only a couple years to soften the tannic grip of the wines. While new oak imparts notes of vanilla, it has the potential to cover up the characteristic rose notes of Nebbiolo.

Blending

In the Piedmont region, there is a long history of blending other grape varieties with Nebbiolo in order to add color and/or soften the grape’s harsh tannins. In addition to red wine grapes such as Barbera, Croatina and Bonarda Piemontese being used, white wine grapes such Arneis and Favorita also have a history of being blended with Nebbiolo. Historically the association with blending Arneis with Nebbiolo was so strong that a common synonym of the former is Barolo Bianco or “white Barolo”.Today the DOCG regulations for Barolo and Barbaresco call for the wine to be a 100% varietal of Nebbiolo. In 1998, producers of the Barbaresco region drafted a proposal to allow 10-15% of other grape varieties into the wine but bad press by Italian wine critics lead to the rejection of that plan. While there is some speculation, from critics such as Oz Clarke, that Barbera or even Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon may being used to augment the color and flavors of Barolos by some producers there is no explicit proof that this is occurring.

For the Nebbiolo based wines of the Roero DOC between 2 to 5% of Arneis is permitted in the blend but the majority of producers rarely use this allowance. Similarly, many producers in Ghemme and Gattinara who are allowed some blending of Vespolina, Croatina and Bonarda opt instead to use nearly 100% Nebbiolo. In the Valtellina region of Lombardy Merlot, Pinot nero, Pignola, Prugnolo and Rossola are permitted blending partners for Nebbiolo.

Wine regions

Nebbiolo is found predominately in the northwest Italian region of Piedmont where it forms the base of many of the regions most well known Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and DOCG wines including Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Ghemme and Nebbiolo d’Alba. Despite the prestige and acclaim of Nebbiolo based wine, it is far from being the most widely grown grape in Piedmont. In 2000, there were just under 12,700 acres (5,000 hectares) of Nebbiolo producing 3.3 million gallons (125,000 hectoliters) of wine which accounted for a little over 3% of Piedmont’s entire production. In contrast, there is nearly 15 times as much Barbera planted in the region. Outside of Piedmont, it is found in the neighboring regions of the Val d’Aosta region of Donnaz and Valtellina and Franciacorta in Lombardy. In the Veneto, there is a small amount which some producers use to make a Nebbiolo recioto wine. Outside of Italy, producers in the United States are experimenting with plantings in California, Washington and Oregon. In the Northern Region of Baja California, Mexico, over 2,700 acres (1,100 ha) support the production of the Nebbiolo varietal. In Argentina there are 200 acres (81 ha) planted in the San Juan province and Australian producers in the King Valley region of Victoria have found some success with their Nebbiolo plantings.

Barolo & Barbaresco

The Piedmont region is considered the viticultural home of Nebbiolo and it is where the grape’s most notable wines are made. The consistent continental climate of the region, coupled with the influences of Tanaro river produces a unique terroir for Nebbiolo that is not easily replicated in other parts of the world. The two most well known Nebbiolo based wines are the DOCG wines of the Barolo & Barbaresco zones near Alba. Barbaresco is considered the lighter of the two and has less stringent DOCG regulations, with the normale bottlings requiring only 9 months in oak and 21 months of total aging and the reserva bottlings requiring 45 total months of aging. In contrast the Barolo DOCG requires 1 year in oak and 3 years total aging for normale bottlings and 57 months total aging for riserva. The minimum alcohol levels for the two region vary slightly with Barbaresco requiring a minimum of 12.5% and Barolo 13%.[2](However, Barolo, as of 1999, now only requires a minimum of 12.5% as well)

Nebbiolo planted in Novara and Vercelli region of northern Piedmont tend to produce lighter and earthier wines.

The Barolo zone is three times the size of the Barbaresco zone with the different communes producing Nebbiolo based wines with noticeable distinctions among them. In the commune of Castiglione Falletto, the wines are more powerful and concentrated with the potential for finesse. Nebbiolo grown in Monforte has a firm tannic structure and the most potential for aging. The Serralunga region produces the heaviest, full bodied Nebbiolo wines and is also the last region to start it harvest, often two week after other areas have begun picking. These three region located on the eastern edge of the zone have soils that are dominated by sand and limestone. In the west, the communes of La Morra and Barolo have soils dominated by chalk and marl and produce wines that are more perfume and silky in texture. Throughout both the Barolo and Barbaresco zones are deposit of clay which add considerable tannins to Nebbiolo.

Rest of Piedmont and Italy

Outside of Barolo & Barbaresco, Nebbiolo is found in the DOCG wines of Ghemme and Gattinara in the Novara and Vercelli hills of northern Piedmont. In these regions the grape is known as Spanna and tends to produce lighter more earthier wines. Rather than mandate a 100% Nebbiolo, producers are allowed to blend a small percentage of Bonarda, Croatina and Vespolina though most modern producers favor a high percentage of Nebbiolo. In the northwestern corner of Nebbiolo, near the Valle Aosta, the cool climate of Carema DOC produces Nebbiolo wines with lots of perfume but in some vintages will have difficulties with ripeness. In the Roero district located across the Tanaro river from Barolo & Barbaresco, the wines tend to be less tannic and lighter while those produced in nearby Alba under the Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC can have more complexity and body.

Outside of Piedmont there are significant plantings of Nebbiolo in the Lombardy region of Valtellina where the grape is known as Chiavennasca. The high yields and sub-alpine climate tends to produce Nebbiolo lacking ripeness with bracing acidity. Nebbiolo is also used to make a deeply concentrated Amarone-type wine known as Sfursat. In the Franciacorta, Nebbiolo is a permitted grape variety along with Barbera, Cabernet Franc and Merlot in the rosso wines of the region. Northwest of Piedmont, in the Valle Aosta, some Nebbiolo is grown in the Donnaz region near the border with Carema.

United States

In California, the influence of Italian immigrants in the early history of the state’s wine industry introduced Nebbiolo to the United States in the 19th century. As Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot increased in popularity in the 20th century, Nebbiolo (as well as other Italian grape varieties) steadily decreased in plantings. Today there are scattered plantings of Nebbiolo throughout the state with the majority located in the jug wine producing region of the Central Valley. As California wine producers aim for producing higher quality wines, there has been difficulties in locating ideally suited sites for Nebbiolo and the progress in producing world class California Nebbiolo is considerably behind that of other Italian varietals like Sangiovese, Primitivo and even Barbera and Dolcetto. In Washington State, Nebbiolo was first planted in the Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA in 1985 with the first varietal release in 1987. As in California, Washington producers are still trying to figure out which sites are best suited to grow Nebbiolo. While the wine is mainly produced as a varietal, some producers make blends with Dolcetto and Syrah added in.

Other regions

In Australia, winemakers found little early success with Nebbiolo as many of the earliest plantings were in sites that turned out to be too warm for the grape. Research into cooler climate sites lead to some favorable examples coming from the marginal climate of Victoria’s King Valley. Further studies have indicated that the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and the Margaret River area of Western Australia have similar amounts of rainfall, relative humidity and sunshine hours as the Langhe region of Piedmont. Victoria’s Bendigo, South Australia‘s Clare Valley and the Mudgee, New South Wales’s are also currently being explored for their potential with Nebbiolo.

In Ensenada, Mexico, producers (L.A. Cetto)have been experimenting with plantings of Nebbiolo in Baja California near the US border with promising result, there are 100% Nebbiolo wines produced from low yielding plants with very good color and fine qualities, like Encino. In South America, early results in Chile have so far produced wines with high acidity and poor color as winemakers work to find which clones are best suited for their climate. The development of Argentine Nebbiolo has been held back by excessively high yields. In Europe, there are some plantings in the Austrian region of Mittelburgenland.

Négrette

Négrette is a dark red wine grape grown primarily in South West France in the region between Albi and Toulouse. It is a direct descendant of Mavro rootstock, a grape variety cultivated extensively on the island of Cyprus.

Negroamaro

Negroamaro, also Negro amaro, is a red wine grape variety native to southern Italy. It is grown almost exclusively in Puglia and particularly in Salento, the peninsula which can be visualised as the “heel” of Italy. The grape can indeed produce wines very deep in color. Wines made from Negroamaro tend to be very rustic in character, combining perfume with an earthy bitterness. The grape produces some of the best red wines of Puglia, particularly when blended with the highly scented Malvasia Nera, as in the case of Salice Salentino.

Although amaro is the Italian for ‘bitter’, the name is thought to derive from two words meaning ‘black’: the Latin language ‘negro’ and the ancient Greek ‘maru’.

‘Maru’ shares a root with “merum”, a wine brought to Puglia by Illyrian colonists before the Greeks arrived in the 7th century BC. Horace and other Roman writers mention “mera tarantina” from Taranto, and Pliny the Elder describes Manduria as ‘viticulosa’ (full of vineyards). But after the fall of the Roman Empire winemaking declined until it was only kept alive in the monasteries – Benedictine on Murgia and Greek Orthodox in Salento. Negroamaro could be the grape used in merum, or it could have been brought by traders from the home of winemaking in Asia Minor at any point in the last 8000 years.

Negroamaro precoce has recently been identified as a distinct clone.

RAPD analysis suggests that it is loosely related to Verdicchio (Verdeca) and Sangiovese.

Nero d’Avola

Nero d’Avola (“Black of Avola” in Italian) is “the most important red wine grape in Sicily“and is one of Italy’s most important indigenous varieties. It is named after Avola in the far south of Sicily and its wines are compared to New World Shirazes, with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavours. It also contributes to Marsala blends.

Nerello

Nerello is a name given to two varieties of red wine grapes that are grown primarily in Sicily and Sardinia.

  • Nerello Mascalese, which is named after the Mascari plain in Catania where the grape is thought to have originated. It is widely used in the Etna Rosso DOC as a blending grape that adds color and alcohol to the wine. It is one of the three grapes used to make the wine Corvo Rosso.
  • Nerello Cappuccio is grown mainly on the northeastern side of Sicily and is thought to be superior in quality to the Nerello Mascalese. While it can be used for blending, the grape is often made into varietal wine.

An Italian study published in 2008 using DNA typing showed a close genetic relationship between Sangiovese on the one hand and ten other Italian grape varieties on the other hand, including Nerello. It is therefore likely that Nerello is a crossing of Sangiovese and another, so far unidentified, grape variety.

Nerello

Nerello is a name given to two varieties of red wine grapes that are grown primarily in Sicily and Sardinia.

  • Nerello Mascalese, which is named after the Mascari plain in Catania where the grape is thought to have originated. It is widely used in the Etna Rosso DOC as a blending grape that adds color and alcohol to the wine. It is one of the three grapes used to make the wine Corvo Rosso.
  • Nerello Cappuccio is grown mainly on the northeastern side of Sicily and is thought to be superior in quality to the Nerello Mascalese. While it can be used for blending, the grape is often made into varietal wine.

An Italian study published in 2008 using DNA typing showed a close genetic relationship between Sangiovese on the one hand and ten other Italian grape varieties on the other hand, including Nerello. It is therefore likely that Nerello is a crossing of Sangiovese and another, so far unidentified, grape variety.

Nielluccio

Nielluccio is a red French wine grape variety that is widely planted on Corsica. It is the principal grape variety used in the production of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée AOC red wine Patrimonio, where it must by law make up 95% of the blend.An early budding vine, Nielluccio produces wines lacking in color and with high alcohol levels. It is commonly used to make rosé wine.

There is confusion about the grape’s exact origins with some wine experts describing the grape as being indigenous to Coriscawhile other theories report that the grape is of Italian origins and possibly even a genetically identical clone of the Tuscan wine grape Sangiovese that came to Corsica from Genoa.

Öküzgözü

Öküzgözü is a Turkish grape variety and Turkish wine produced from this grape. The grape is one of the two native grape varieties of Elazığ province (the other one is Boğazkere), located on the Anatolian plateau at the north of the Taurus Mountains. The various sources of the Euphrates River in this region soften the normally harsh climate of Eastern Turkey.

Öküzgözü has rounded, dark colored grapes, which are the largest among the grape varieties grown in Turkey. The Turkish word öküzgözü literally means “ox eye”.

This unique ageable dry red wine – Öküzgözü ages well up to 10 years – has a bright red color, reveals intense fruity flavors of raspberry and cherry, and is rich with a well-balanced body with light tannins. The alcohol ratio of wine is between 12 – 13%. Öküzgözü is best served at 16-18 degrees C (61–64 degrees F) and is a perfect match with different dishes served with a cheese sauce, casseroles, red meat, grills, cheese and poultry.

Öküzgözü is a Turkish grape variety and Turkish wine produced from this grape. The grape is one of the two native grape varieties of Elazığ province (the other one is Boğazkere), located on the Anatolian plateau at the north of the Taurus Mountains. The various sources of the Euphrates River in this region soften the normally harsh climate of Eastern Turkey.

Öküzgözü has rounded, dark colored grapes, which are the largest among the grape varieties grown in Turkey. The Turkish word öküzgözü literally means “ox eye”.

This unique ageable dry red wine – Öküzgözü ages well up to 10 years – has a bright red color, reveals intense fruity flavors of raspberry and cherry, and is rich with a well-balanced body with light tannins. The alcohol ratio of wine is between 12 – 13%. Öküzgözü is best served at 16-18 degrees C (61–64 degrees F) and is a perfect match with different dishes served with a cheese sauce, casseroles, red meat, grills, cheese and poultry.

Öküzgözü is a Turkish grape variety and Turkish wine produced from this grape. The grape is one of the two native grape varieties of Elazığ province (the other one is Boğazkere), located on the Anatolian plateau at the north of the Taurus Mountains. The various sources of the Euphrates River in this region soften the normally harsh climate of Eastern Turkey.

Öküzgözü has rounded, dark colored grapes, which are the largest among the grape varieties grown in Turkey. The Turkish word öküzgözü literally means “ox eye”.

This unique ageable dry red wine – Öküzgözü ages well up to 10 years – has a bright red color, reveals intense fruity flavors of raspberry and cherry, and is rich with a well-balanced body with light tannins. The alcohol ratio of wine is between 12 – 13%. Öküzgözü is best served at 16-18 degrees C (61–64 degrees F) and is a perfect match with different dishes served with a cheese sauce, casseroles, red meat, grills, cheese and poultry.

Pais

Pais is a red wine grape that has played a prominent role in the Chilean wine industry. Up until the turn of the 21st century, it was Chile‘s most planted variety until it was overtaken by Cabernet Sauvignon. Today it is most commonly used in the creation of jug wine in the Bío-Bío, Maule and Itata River regions in the south. The grape is sometimes known as Negra Peruana. In Argentina the grape is known as Criolla Chica.

Pamid

Pamid is an old grape variety used for red wine. It has been cultivated in Bulgaria since the times of the ancient Thracians. In the past, it was the most widely spread Bulgarian variety, but today its plantations are highly limited. Pamid is also cultivated in Yugoslavia, Albania, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and Romania. The bunch is medium-sized (10-16 cm), and the grape is small (14-15 mm) and juicy. The skin is thin, red or sometimes dark red. It has excellent fertility, and its vintage is around the middle of September. It’s yield is about 4-5 kg. It does not need any particular kind of soil, but the grapes with best quality are cultivated in hilly areas with light drained soils.

This grape accumulates sufficient sugar – from 18 to 24%, but its acidity is low: 4-5 g/dm3. The wines are red, light table wines for mass consumption. They have low acidity and low extract and that is why they are not appropriate for maturing and should be consumed young, right after fermentation and clarification.

Pelaverga

Pelaverga is a red wine grape variety native to Piedmont. It is described as rare and pale, prone to make lightly sparkling, strawberry-flavoured wines.[1]

It may also be used as a table grape.

Published on January 27, 2011 at 11:53  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I think the admin of this website is actually
    working hard in support of his site, since here every data is quality based
    data.

    • Dear Sir ,

      Many thanks for the appreciation ! I don’t actually try and reinvent the wheel – sort of speaking – however , there are not to many websites / blogs …portals giving the such information to the ones trying to start in this particular field , so I give it a try , for some 5 years now !

      Once again , Thank You very much for visiting and come back at Your earliest convenience !

      Please receive My Best Regards ,

      Adrian


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