Chapter 9.4. General View on Red Grapes Varieties


Pinotage is a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety. It was bred there in 1925 as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut (Cinsaut was known as Hermitage in South Africa during that time, hence the portmanteau name of Pinotage). It typically produces deep red varietal wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavors, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, but has been criticized for sometimes smelling of acetone. Pinotage is often blended, and also made into fortified wine and even red sparkling wine. The grape is a viticultural cross of two varieties of Vitis vinifera, not a hybrid.

Pinotage is a grape variety that was created in South Africa in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University. Perold was attempting to combine the best qualities of the robust Hermitage with Pinot Noir, a grape that makes great wine but can be difficult to grow. Perold planted the four seeds from his cross in the garden of his official residence at Welgevallen Experimental Farm and then seems to have forgotten about them. In 1927 he left the university for a job with KWV co-operative and the garden became overgrown. The university sent in a team to tidy it up, just as Charlie Niehaus happened to pass by. He was a young lecturer who knew about the seedlings, and rescued them from the clean-up team. The young plants were moved to Elsenburg Agricultural College under Perold’s successor, CJ Theron. In 1935 Theron grafted them onto newly established Richter 99 and Richter 57 rootstock at Welgevallen. Meanwhile Perold continued to visit his former colleagues. Theron showed him the newly grafted vines, and the one that was doing best was selected for propagation and was christened Pinotage. The first wine was made in 1941 at Elsenburg, with the first commercial plantings at Myrtle Grove near Sir Lowry’s Pass. Also in 1941 Pinotage vines were planted at the Kanonkop Estate, the wines of which have later risen to great fame and can mature up to 25 years, so that this estate has even been called “a formidable leader of Cape’s red wine pack.”

The first recognition came when a Bellevue wine made from Pinotage became the champion wine at the Cape Wine Show of 1959. This wine would become the first wine to mention Pinotage on its label in 1961, when Stellenbosch Farmer’s Winery (SFW) marketed it under their Lanzerac brand. This early success, and its easy viticulture, prompted a wave of planting during the 1960s.

Pinot St. George / 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.

Plavac Mali

Plavac Mali, a cross between ancestral Zinfandel (known locally in Croatian as Crljenak Kaštelanski) and Dobričić grapes, is the primary red wine grape grown along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. The name refers to the small blue grapes that the vines produce: in Croatian plavo means blue; mali means small.

Plavac Mali is known for producing rich, flavorful wines that are high in both alcohol (typically 12% but up to 17%) and grape tannins. Common flavors and aromas include blackberries, dark cherries, pepper, and spices. Croatian wines from this grape include the reds from Dingač and Postup (both growing regions on the Pelješac peninsula), Ivan Dolac and Sveta Nedilja (Hvar island), Bolski plavac (Brač island) and the rosé Opol (a vinification style).


Portan is a red French wine grape that is planted primarily in the Languedoc. The grape is a crossing of Grenache and Portugais, being breed with the aim of ripening more reliably than Grenache.

Portugieser ( Blauer )

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). In Germany, the cultivated area 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.

Despite the suggestion of the grape’s name of having Portuguese origin, there is little evidence that ampelographers have uncovered to suggest that is the case. It is often said that the Austrian Johann von Fries brought it from Oporto to his estates near Voslau in 1772. In Hungary it was until recently called kékoportó for that reason. There is evidence to indicate that the grape was widely established in Austria by the 19th century when cuttings were brought to Germany. From there the grape increased in planting, becoming very popular during the German red wine boom of the 1970s when it surpassed Spätburgunder (Pinot noir) in red grape plantings.


Poulsard (also Ploussard) is a red French wine grape variety from the Jura wine region. The name Ploussard is used mainly around the town of Pupillin but can appear on wine labels throughout Jura as an authorized synonyms. While technically a dark-skinned noir grape, the skins of Poulsard are very thin with low amounts of color –phenols and produces very pale colored red wines, even with extended maceration and can be used to produce white wines. Because of this, Poulsard is often blended with other red-skin varieties or used to produce lightly colored rosé wines. Additionally the grape is used to make blanc de noir white wines and sparkling cremants.

Poulsard is an authorized grape variety in the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wines of Arbois AOC, Côtes du Jura AOC, Crémant du Jura AOC, L’Etoile AOC and Macvin du Jura AOC. Outside of Jura, Poulsard is also grown in Bugey AOC of the Ain département in eastern France.

Prieto Picudo

Prieto Picudo is a red wine grape that is grown primarily in Spain. It is a grape of Valdevimbre, in León, Spain. Valdevimbre is an international place of wines. The Prieto Picudo is sometimes blended with the grape Mencia and as a varietal it produces wine with similar characteristics to Tempranillo .



Europe (6000 BCE – 1870)

Archaeological evidence indicates that domestication of Vitis vinifera occurred in the Caucasus region around 6000 BCE, and winemaking was discovered shortly after.[5] Cultivation of the vine subsequently spread to the Mediterranean and surrounding regions. Croatia once had several indigenous varieties related to Zinfandel,[6] which formed the basis of its wine industry in the 19th century. This diversity suggests that the grapes existed in Croatia longer than anywhere else. However, these varieties were almost entirely wiped out by the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century, reducing Zinfandel to just nine vines of locally-known “Crljenak Kaštelanski” discovered in 2001 on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.[6]

The first documented use of the term Primitivo appears in Italian governmental publications of the 1870s.[3] The name derives from the terms primativus or primaticcio, which refer to the grape’s tendency to ripen earlier than other varieties.[7] This name’s appearance 40 years after the first documented use of the term Zinfandel was previously thought to suggest that Primitivo was introduced to Italy from across the Atlantic; however, this hypothesis became unlikely since the discovery of the vine’s Croatian origin.[8]

Primitivo is now thought to have been introduced as a distinct clone into the Puglia region of Italy in the 18th century. Don Francesco Filippo Indellicati, the priest of the church at Gioia del Colle near Bari, selected an early (“primo”) ripening plant of the Zagarese variety and planted it in Liponti. This clone ripened at the end of August and became widespread throughout northern Puglia. Cuttings came to the other great Primitivo DOC (denominazione di origine controllata or “denomination of controlled origin”) as part of the dowry of the Countess Sabini of Altamura when she married Don Tommaso Schiavoni-Tafuri of Manduria in the late 19th century.


Prokupac is a red Serbian wine grape that is often used to produce darkly colored rosé. The grape is noted for the high sugar levels it can achieve prior to harvest and the high levels of alcohol it can produce following fermentation.


Raboso is a red wine grape grown primarily in northeastern Italy around Veneto. It produces deep-colored wine, with notably high levels of tannin but low alcohol content. The vine ripens late, producing good yields with high resistance to fungal disease and rot


Ramisco is a red Portuguese wine grape variety that is planted primarily in the Colares DOC. As a varietal Ramisco produces very tannic and astringent wines.


Refosco is a very old Italian family of dark-skinned grape varieties native to the northern Italian areas of Friuli, Gavi, Trentino, Istria, and Karst Plateau. It is considered autochthonous in these regions.

The wines this grape yields can be quite powerful and tannic, with a deep violet color and a slight bitterness. On the palate, there are strong currant, wild berry and plum flavors. The wine can stand some aging (depending on variety), and after a period of four-to-ten years, it achieves a floral quality as well. Refosk should be served at 16 °C (60.8 °F), or if it is particularly rich in tannin, at 18 °C (64.4 °F). It goes best with charcuterie, game, and grilled poultry.

There are several varieties of refosco family:

  • Refosco dal peduncolo rosso – probably the most internationally recognizable refosco wine. Cluster has the red stalk (peduncle), referring to the red stem that holds the grapes to the vine. In the attempt of making the wine more approachable to an international palate, recent versions have taken well to new oak and cold fermentation. The most well known examples of Refosco come from the Colli Orientali region of Friuli.
  • Refosco d’Istria (Refosko Istriano or Refosco dal pedunculo verde) – this variety is grown in Slovenian and Croatian parts of Istria, and around Trieste in Italy under the name of Refošk or Refosco d’Istria. This wine does not benefit from protracted aging.
  • Teran or Terrano – this refosko variety (and wine) is typical for Carso DOC and Slovenian Karst reagion under the name Teranno Carso or Kraški teran respectively. It is also grown in Croatian Istria on a very similar red soil under the name Istarski Teran. Some claim that Teran is just other refosko varieties grown on Terra Rossa, while others consider it its own variety.
  • Refosco di Faedis – a variety cultivated in Faedis region, Torreano di Cividale, Povoletto, Attimis, Nimis in northeast region of Province of Udine. It is very rare and produced in small quantities. It is said to be the parent of all other refosko grapes in the region as it has many characteristics of all other refosco varieties (including high levels of acids and iron typical for Teran)
  • Refosco di Rauscedo
  • Refosco nostrano
  • Refoscone  – some claim that this is just Refosco di Fadeis.

Origin and History

The Refosco family have a very long history, but details of the early history are not clear. DNA analysis of Refosco dal Pedunculo Rosso has revealed Marzemino, another ancient variety of northern Italy, as one of its parents.

Some authorities have previously suggested that Mondeuse Noire, which is primarily found in the Savoy region in eastern France, is identical to Refosco dal Pedunculo Rosso due to the similarity of the wines. DNA analysis has shown that this is not the case, and that the two varieties are unrelated.

Several oenologists believe that wines made from refosco family grapes are the old Roman puccinum. The grapes were well known in antiquity and variety of refosco wine was praised by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder in the first century for its quality. In his work Naturalis Historia he mentioned that puccinum was made of grapes grown in the north Adriatic near the spring of Timavo – a typical Karst river:

… This is the Region of the Carni, joining that of Japides : the River Timavus, and the Castle Pucinum, famous for good Wine. …
Pliniy, Natural History, CHAPTER XVIII. Venetia, the tenth Region.) 

Puccinum was known for its medical properties and it is believed that it was the favorite of Augustus‘s wife Livia, who lived to the respectable age of 82.

Although there is also a theory that puccinum could be a sweet white prosecco. This theory was supported by italian prof. Gianni Dalmasso who claimed that Livia could not like the bitter taste of refosco wine and that the only possible wine she could like was a sweet variety of prosecco grown around Trieste region . There is also a comment on the medieval map Prosecho ol:Pucinum, hinc vina a Plinio | tantopere laudata (Prosecho, once called Pucinum. From here comes wine highly praised by Plinius), form Gregorio Amaseo, (1464-1541) .

Even the famous Giacomo Casanova liked the refosco wine, as he describes it in his book of memories:

… His refosco, which was even better than my devout hostess’s had been, made me forget all my troubles. …:
Giacomo Casanova. History of my life. Volume 1, Chapter 8, Page 207. Translated by Willard R. Trask. JHU Press. 1966

It is also believed that one of the reasons the Habsburgs build the Parenzana railway from Trieste to Poreč was because they liked the wines from the region (refosco, malvasia and teran). That is also why the railway was often referred to as a wine railroad or vineyard railway.


Roesler is a red Austrian wine grape developed in 1970 by Dr. Gertraud Mayer at Höhere Bundeslehranstalt und das Bundesamt für Wein- und Obstbau in Klosterneuburg, Austria. It is the result of a crossing Zweigelt x (Seyve-Villard 18-402 & Blaufränkisch) and is named after the former director of Austria’s oldest viticultural college, Leonard Roesler. The variety is deep in color and with abundant extract. It is frost resistant and can withstand temperatures as low as -25ºC (-13ºF). It is also resistant to mildew.


Rondinella is an Italian wine grape mainly grown in the Veneto region of Italy and used in wines such as Valpolicella and Bardolino. It is often blended Corvina, whom DNA evidence has shown is a parent variety, and Molinara. The grape has rather neutral flavors but is favored by growers due to its prolific yields. The vine is very resistant to grape disease and produces grapes that, while they don’t necessarily have high sugar levels, do dry out well for use in the production of straw wines and recioto blends.


Rossese is a red Italian wine grape variety that is planted primarily in Liguria. The wines produced from Rossese are a local specialty found around Dolceacqua.

Rossola Nera / Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre (French: [muʁvɛdʁ]), Mataró (Catalan: [mətəˈɾo]) or Monastrell (Catalan: [munəsˈtɾeʎ]) is wine grape variety 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.


Rotberger is a wine grape variety. Its parentage is not known with certainty but it is thought to be from a cross of Trollinger and Riesling grapes). Dr. Heinrich Birk (1898-1973) produced the cross at the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute in 1928. It is used to produce fruity, early maturing light red wines in cool-climate areas. It is often best drunk when young and can be used to produce a rosé or sparkling wine. It has no relationship with the Rotburger variety bearing a nearly similar name which is also known as Zweigelt.


Ruché is a red Italian wine grape variety from the Piedmont region. It is largely used in making Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato, a small production red varietal wine which was granted Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status by presidential decree on October 22, 1987. The current DOC recognized area of production for the wine, covers only about 100 acres [[40 hectares) of vines around the villages of Castagnole Monferrato, Refrancore, Grana, Montemagno, Viarigi, Scurzolengo and Portacomaro. Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato is, therefore, one of the lowest production varietal wines in Italy. The grape is also grown to some extent in the neighboring province of Alessandria.

There is some debate about the origins of the Ruché grape. One theory is that the varietal is indigenous to the hills northeast of the town of Asti. Another theory is that the grape is a local variation on a French import. It has been grown in the area for at least one hundred years but has only recently been marketed and consumed outside of the immediate vicinity of its production. Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato tends to be medium bodied with notes of pepper and wild berries and floral aromas on the nose. The wine is often characterized by moderate acidity and soft tannins. In the Piedmont region it is often paired with slow-cooked beef, northern Italian cheeses and mushrooms.

Rubired / Olmo grape

Olmo grapes are wine and table grape varieties produced by University of California, Davis viticulturist Dr. Harold Olmo. Over the course of his nearly 50 year career, Dr. Olmo bred a wide variety of both grapes by means of both crossing varieties from the same species or creating hybrid grapes from cultivars of different Vitis species.

Ruby Cabernet

Ruby Cabernet is a red Olmo grape variety that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan, it can produce wines with good colour and a pleasant cherry flavour, but is mostly blended into bulk wines.

The purpose for the creation of the crossing of the grape varieties utilized to produce Ruby Cabernet was to obtain the superior quality of a Cabernet wine, and the resistance to heat of the Carignan combined in an inexpensive table wine. Even though the wine made from these grapes does not possess the distinctive flavor and the overall structure of other types of Cabernet wines, it does carry their fruitful essence.

The grape for this type of red wine was developed for California’s hot climate, specially for regions such as the San Joaquin and the Napa Valleys. Ruby Cabernet has improved the quality of the bulk wines produced in these areas thanks to its natural, special acidity.


Sagrantino is an Italian grape variety that is indigenous to the region of Umbria in Central Italy. It is grown primarily in the village of Montefalco and its surrounding areas, with only 250 acres (1.0 km2) dedicated to the grape in the hands of about 25 producers. With such small production, the wine is not widely known outside of Italy, even though it was granted DOCG status in 1991. The grape is one of the most tannic varieties in the world, and creates wines that are inky purple with an almost-black center. The bouquet is one of dark, brooding red fruits with hints of plum, cinnamon, and earth. The Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG requires 100 percent Sagrantino used, with a required at least 29 months aging before release. A passito is still made, a thick, syrupy wine with raisin and blueberry qualities. The alcohol content is around 16 percent.


Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh [sandʒoˈveːze]) is a red Italian wine grape variety whose name derives from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jove“. Though it is the grape of most of central Italy from Romagna down to Lazio, Campania and Sicily, outside Italy it is most famous as the main component of the blend Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, although it can also be used to make varietal wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino or Sangiovese di Romagna, as well as modern “Super Tuscan” wines like Tignanello. Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavors when aged in barrels. Sangiovese was already well known by the 16th century. Recent DNA profiling by José Vouillamoz of the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige suggests that Sangiovese’s ancestors are Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo. The former is well known as an ancient variety in Tuscany, the latter is an almost-extinct relic from the Calabria, the toe of Italy. At least fourteen Sangiovese clones exist, of which Brunello is one of the best regarded. An attempt to classify the clones into Sangiovese grosso (including Brunello) and Sangiovese piccolo families has gained little evidential support.

Early theories on the origin of Sangiovese dated the grape to the time of Roman winemaking. This was due, in part, to the literal translation of the grape’s name as the “blood of Jove”-the Roman Jupiter. It was even postulated that the grape was first cultivated in Tuscany by the Etruscans. The first documented mention of Sangiovese was in the 1590 writings of Giovanvettorio Soderini (also known under the pen name of Ciriegiulo). Identifying the grape as “Sangiogheto” Soderini notes that in Tuscany the grape makes very good wine but if the winemaker is not careful, it risks turning into vinegar. While there is no conclusive proof that Sangiogheto is Sangiovese, most wine historians generally consider this to be the first historical mention of the grape. Regardless, it would not be until the 18th century that Sangiovese would gain wide spread attention throughout Tuscany, being with Malvasia and Trebbiano the most widely planted grapes in the region.

In 1738, Cosimo Trinci described wines made from Sangiovese as excellent when blended with other varieties but hard and acidic when made as a wine by itself. In 1883, the Italian writer Giovanni Cosimo Villifranchi echoed a similar description about the quality of Sangiovese being dependent on the grapes it was blended with. The winemaker and politician, Bettino Ricasoli formulated one of the early recipes for Chianti when he blended his Sangiovese with a sizable amount of Canaiolo. In the wines of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Sangiovese would experience a period of popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1970s, Tuscan winemakers began a period of innovation by introducing modern oak treatments and blending the grape with non-Italian varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon in the creation of wines that were given the collective marketing sobriquet “Super Tuscans”.

Clones and parentage

Early ampelographical research into Sangiovese begun in 1906 with the work of G. Molon. Molon discovered that the Italian grape known as “Sangiovese” was actually several “varieties” of clones which he broadly classified as Sangiovese Grosso and Sangiovese Piccolo. The Sangiovese Grosso family included the clones growing in the Brunello region as well as the clones known as Prugnolo Gentile and Sangiovese di Lamole that was grown in the Greve in Chianti region. The Sangiovese Grosso, according to Molon, produced the highest quality wine, while the varieties in the Sangiovese Piccolo family, which included the majority of clones, produced wine of a lesser degree of quality. In 2004, DNA profiling done by researchers at San Michele All’Adige revealed the grape to be the product of a crossing between Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo. While Ciliegiolo has a long history tied to the Tuscan region, Calabrese Montenuovo (which is not related to the grape commonly known as Calabrese, or Nero d’Avola) has its origins in southern Italy, where it probably originated in the Calabria region before moving its way up to Campania. This essentially means that the genetic heritage of Sangiovese is half Tuscan and half southern Italian. More recently, a genetic study on “Sangiovese” confirmed the hypothesis of a South Italian origin for ‘Sangiovese’ (Sicily and Calabria), but clearly demonstrated that “Ciliegiolo” is an offspring of “Sangiovese” (parent and grandparent pairs of “Ciliegiolo” identified). Furthermore, historical data supports these results since “Sangiovese” was cited 3 centuries earlier than ‘Ciliegiolo’.

A study published in 2007 using DNA typing tentatively identified the varieties Ciliegiolo and Calabrese di Montenuovo as the parents of Sangiovese, but this was immediately disputed by another study published the same year which claimed Ciliegiolo was the offspring of Sangiovese rather than the other way around. (In some cases, it is easier to establish a close relationship between grape varieties by DNA typing rather than to conclusively establish the exact nature of the relationship.)

Another 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: Foglia Tonda, Frappato, Gaglioppo, Mantonicone, Morellino del Casentino, Morellino del Valdarno, Nerello Mascalese, Tuccanese di Turi, Susumaniello, and Vernaccia Nera del Valdarno. It is possible, and even likely, that Sangiovese is one of the parents of each of these grape varieties. However, since the parentage of Sangiovese is still disputed, the exact nature of the relationship in each case could not be conclusively established. Since these grape varieties are spread over different parts of Italy (Apulia, Calabria, Sicily and Tuscany), this confirmed by genetic methods that Sangiovese is a key variety in the pedigree of red Italian grape varieties.

Sangiovese has shown itself to be adaptable to many different types of vineyard soils but seems to thrive in soils with a high concentration of limestone, having the potential to produce elegant wines with forceful aromas. In the Chianti Classico region, Sangiovese thrives on the highly friable shaleclay soil known as galestro. In the Montalcino region, where there is a high proportion of limestone-based alberese soils alternating with deposits of galestro. The lesser zones of the generic Chianti appellation are predominately clay, which doesn’t produce as high quality of wine as alberese and galestro do. The grape requires a long growing season, as it buds early and is slow to ripen. The grape requires sufficient warmth to ripen fully, but too much warmth and its flavors can become diluted. Harvests in Italy have traditionally begun after September 29, with modern harvest often taking place in mid-late October. A longer growing season gives the grapes time to develop richness and potential body. However, in cool vintages this can result in the grapes having high levels of acidity and harsh, unripened tannins. In regions (like some areas of Tuscany) that are prone to rainfall in October, there is a risk for rot due to the Sangiovese grape’s thin skin. Fully developed grapes are typically 19 mm long x 17 mm wide, with an average weight of 3 grams.

For the best quality, yields need to be kept in check as the vine is notably vigorous and prone to overproduction. In Chianti, most quality conscious producers limit their yields to 3 pounds (1.5 kg) of fruit per vine. Wine made from high-yielding vines tend to produce wines with light color and high acidity, which are likely to oxidize (“brown”) prematurely. Soils with low fertility are ideal and help control some of the vigor of the vine. Planting vines in high densities in order to curb vigor may have the adverse affect of increasing foliage and limiting the amount of direct sunlight that can reach the ripening grapes. Advances in understanding the quality and characteristics of the different clones of Sangiovese has led to the identification and propagation of superior clones. While high-yielding clones have been favored in the past, more attention is being paid to matching the clone to the vineyard site and controlling the vine’s vigor.

In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety. It is an officially recommended variety in 53 provinces and an authorized planting in an additional 13. It accounts for approximately 10% of all vineyard plantings in Italywith more than 100,000 hectares (250,000 ac) planted to one of the many clonal variation of the grape. Throughout Italy it is known under a variety of names including Brunello, Morellino, Nielluccio and Prugnolo Gentile. It is the main grape used in the popular red wines of Tuscany, where it is the solitary grape of Brunello di Montalcino and the primary component of the wines of Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and many “Super Tuscans”. Outside of Tuscany, it is found throughout central Italy where it places an important role in the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines of Montefalco Sagrantino secco and Torgiano Rosso Riserva in Umbria, Conero in Marche and the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wines of Lazio and Rosso Piceno in Marche. Significant Sangiovese plantings can also be found outside of central Italy in Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna, Valpolicella and as far south as Campania and Sicily.

The intense fruit and deep color of Cabernet was shown to be well suited for blending with Sangiovese but banned in many Italian DOCs. In the 1970s, the rise of “Super Tuscans”-wines that eschew DOC regulation in favor of the lower classification of vino da tavola-increased the demand for more flexibility in the DOC laws. While the first DOC to be permitted to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese was approved for Carmignano in 1975, most of Tuscany’s premier wine regions were not permitted to blend Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese till the late 20th century.


Saperavi (Georgian: საფერავი; literally “paint, dye” – due to its intensive dark-red colour) is an acidic, teinturier-type grape variety native to Georgia, where it is used to make many of the region’s distinctive wines, along with the Alexandreuli and Rkastiteli varieties. Leaves are 3-lobed, large, and roundish. Berries are medium to large, elliptic, dark bluish, and thin-skinned; with a maturation period of approximately 5 months and moderate productivity.

Saperavi is also the name for a red wine made from the Saperavi grape variety grown in some areas of Kakheti. It is an extractive wine with a characteristic bouquet, a harmonious taste and pleasant astringency. Its strength is 10.5-12.5% and titrated acidity 5-7%. At the international wine competitions this wine received one gold and one silver medal. It has been produced since 1886. Saperavi grapes produce substantial deep red wines that are suitable for extended aging (perhaps up to fifty years). It has the potential to produce high alcohol levels, and is used extensively for blending with other lesser varieties. It is the most important grape variety used to make Georgian red wines.

Saperavi is a hardy variety, known for its ability to handle extremely cold weather; and is popular for growing in high altitude and inland regions. It is a teinturier grape, containing the red anthrocyanin within the grape pulp as well as the skin; and is unusual in being one of very few such grapes used in single-varietal winemaking (most are used in small amounts, strictly for blending).

Schiava / Trollinger

Trollinger (or Schiava) is a light-red, late-maturing wine grape variety that was originally cultivated in the wine regions of South Tyrol and Trentino.

It probably reached the southern regions of Germany during Roman times. The variety is first mentioned under that name in fourteenth century documents, for example Martin Luther drank it according to a report of the papal legate Alexander around 1520. In the 1960s, it was crossed with the white grape Riesling to produce the cross Kerner.

Today it is almost exclusively cultivated on steep, sunny locations in the Württemberg wine region of Baden-Württemberg. In Württemberg, 21.2 percent of the vineyards are devoted to Trollinger grapes – one of the region’s top three grapes.


Schiopettino (meaning “gunshot” or “little crack” also known as “Ribolla Nera”) is a red Italian wine grape grown predominately in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy. The grape is believed to have originated between the comune of Prepotto and the Slovenian border where records of the Schiopettino wine being used in marriage ceremonies date to 1282. The grape was nearly lost to extinction following the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century when vineyard owners decided against replanting the variety in favor of French wine grapes like Cabernet franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot gris, Sauvignon blanc and Merlot. Some isolated plantings continued to exist till a 1978 European Union decree encouraged its planting in the province of Udine.


Schönburger, also spelled Schoenburger, or Schonburger is a variety of grape, formally designated Geisenheim 15-114, a crossing developed at Geisenheim Institute for Grape Breeding in Germany, and released in 1979, of Pinot Noir &(Chasselas & Muscat Hamburg).

It is grown now in Germany, as well as in England where it is gaining popularity in the early 2000’s and is “authorized”. It can also be found in British Columbia Canada , and in western Washington state, western Oregon state, USA. A common feature of these areas is a cool climate, often maritime influenced.

This is a reliable early-ripening grape, though is susceptible to powdery mildew.

The wine produced is typically a soft while full and fruity white.


Sciacarello (or Sciaccarello) is a red wine grape that is grown primarily in Corsica. It is most noted for the wines that come from Ajaccio which tends to be highly perfumed. The grape is normally blended and rarely made into a varietal wine.


Ségalin is a red French wine grape variety that is a crossing of Jurançon Noir and Portugais. As a varietal, Ségalin has the potential to produce well structured wines.


Syrah or Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce powerful red wines. Whether sold as Syrah or Shiraz, these wines enjoy great popularity.

Syrah is used as a varietal and is also blended. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world’s 7th most grown grape at 142,600 hectares (352,000 acres).

DNA profiling in 1999 found Shiraz to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah, a synonym for Durif, a cross of Syrah with Peloursin dating from 1880.

The name Shiraz

It is called Syrah in its country of origin, France, as well as in the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Uruguay and most of the United States. The name Shiraz became popular for this grape variety in Australia, where it has long been established as the most grown dark-skinned variety. In Australia it was also commonly called Hermitage up to the late 1980s, but since that name is also a French Protected designation of origin, this naming practice caused a problem in some export markets and was dropped. The name Shiraz for this grape variety is also commonly used in South Africa and Canada.

The grape is also known under many other synonyms that are used in various parts of the world including Antourenein Noir, Balsamina, Candive, Entournerein, Hignin Noir, Marsanne Noir, Schiras, Sirac, Syra, Syrac, Serine, and Sereine.

Legends of Syrah’s origins come from one of its synonyms – Shiraz. Because a city in Iran called Shiraz produced the well-known Shirazi wine, legends claim that the Syrah grape originated in Shiraz and then was brought to Rhône. This association suggests that “Syrah” is a local French synonym and “Shiraz” is the proper name.

There are at least two significantly different versions of the myth, giving different accounts of how the variety is supposed to have been brought from Shiraz to Rhône and differing up to 1,800 years in dating this event. In one version, the Phocaeans should have brought Syrah/Shiraz to their colony around Marseilles (then known as Massilia), which was founded around 600 BC. The grape should then later have made its way to northern Rhône, which was never colonized by the Phocaeans. No documentary evidence exists to back up this legend, and it also requires that the variety later has vanished from the Marseilles region without leaving any trace.

In another version, the person who brought the variety to Rhône is even named, being the crusader Gaspard de Stérimberg, who is supposed to have built the chapel at Hermitage. Even before the advent of DNA typing of grapes, there were several problems with this legend. First, no ampelographic investigations of the grapes from Shiraz seem to have been made. Second, it is documented that the famous Shirazi wine was white. (Although, white wines can be made from red or dark skinned grapes) ruling out the use of dark-skinned grapes such as Syrah, and no known descriptions of this wine’s taste and character indicate any similarity whatsoever with red wines from the Rhône. Third, it is highly doubtful if any crusader would have journeyed as far east as Persia, since the crusades were focused on the Holy Land.

The legend connecting Syrah with the city of Shiraz in Iran may, however, be of French origin. James Busby wrote in Journal of a recent visit to the principal vineyards of Spain and France that the 1826 book Œnologie Française “stated that, according to the tradition of the neighbourhood, the plant [Scyras] was originally brought from Shiraz in Persia, by one of the hermits of the mountain”.

Since the name Shiraz has been used primarily in Australia in modern time, while the earliest Australian documents use the spelling “Scyras”, it has been speculated (among others by Jancis Robinson) that the name Shiraz is in fact a so-called “strinization” of Syrah’s name via Scyras. However, while the names Shiraz and Hermitage gradually seem to have replaced Scyras in Australia from the mid-19th century, the spelling Shiraz has also been documented in British sources back to at least the 1830s. So, while the name or spelling Shiraz may be an effect of the English language on a French name, there is no evidence that it actually originated in Australia, although it was definitely the Australian usage and the Australian wines that made the use of this name popular.

Other legends

Another legend of the grape variety’s origin, based on the name Syrah, is that it was brought from Syracuse by the legions of Roman Emperor Probus sometime after AD 280. This legend also lacks documentary evidence and is inconsistent with ampelographic findings.

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.


Souzão (or Sousão or Vinhão) is Portuguese wine grape that is used in the production of port wine. While originating in the Minho regions, it is used primarily in Australia, California and South Africa. In Portugal, it is also an authorized planting in the Douro, and Dão-Lafões area (Vinho do Dão). The grape is known for the deep color it produces in a wine as well as its coarse and raisiny taste. In Australia Souzao is used to make port style wines and also table wines, often blended with other Portuguese grape varieties.

St. Laurent

St. Laurent (sometimes written in French as Saint Laurent or in German as Sankt Laurent) is a highly aromatic dark-skinned wine grape variety of the same family as Pinot Noir, originating in France.

St. Laurent is the most widely planted red grape variety in the Czech Republic, growing in all wine subregions in both Moravia and Bohemia. It comprises approximately 9% of total vineyards, or 1,730 hectares (4,300 acres).

In Austria, it is primarily found in the regions Niederösterreich and Burgenland. In 2008, Austrian plantations stood at 794 hectares (1,960 acres), and have expanded in the 2000s as a part of general red wine trend in Austria, after having declined somewhat during the 1990s.

A small quantity of St. Laurent is also grown in New Zealand after an import in 2002 into Alexandra, Central Otago.


Tannat is a red wine grape, historically grown in South West France in the Madiran AOC and is now one of the most prominent grapes in Uruguay, where it is considered the “national grape”. It is also grown in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Peru, and in Italy‘s Puglia region where it is used as a blending grape. In the US state of Virginia, there are small experimental plantings of the vine, and plantings in California have increased dramatically in the first years of the 21st Century. Tannat wines produced in Uruguay are usually quite different in character from Madiran wines, being lighter in body and lower in tannins. It is also used to make Armagnac and full bodied rosé. In France, efforts to solve the harsh tannic nature of the grape lead to the development of the winemaking technique known as micro-oxygenation.


Tarrango is a red grape variety used in Australian wine production. This slow-ripening grape was created in 1965 by the CSIRO Horticultural Research Station at Merbein in Victoria, Australia, as a hybrid of Touriga Nacional and Sultana in order to create wines of good acidity, but low in tannin. Its wines are often similar to Beaujolais in style. Requiring an unusually warm climate, it is principally grown in the wine-producing areas of northern Victoria.


Tazzelenghe is a red Italian wine grape variety from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy. The grape is predominantly found in the Colli Orientali del Friuli Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC). The grape’s name means “Tongue stinging” or “Tongue cutting”.


Tempranillo is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. It is the main grape used in Rioja, and is often referred to as Spain’s “noble grape“. Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano (“early”), a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. In the last 100 years it has been planted in Mexico, New Zealand, South America, USA, South Africa, Australia, Turkey and Canada.

Tempranillo wines can be consumed young, but the most expensive ones are aged for several years in oak barrels. The wines are ruby red in colour, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb.

Old world production

Tempranillo is native to northern Spain and widely cultivated as far south as La Mancha. The two major regions that grow Tempranillo are Rioja in North Central Spain and Ribera del Duero, which lies a little further to the south. Ribera del Duero wine making goes back over 2,000 years as evidenced by the 66-meter mosaic of Bacchus, the god of wine that was unearthed relatively recently at Baños de Valdearados. Substantial quantities are also grown in the Penedès, Navarra and Valdepeñas regions. The grape plays a role in the production of wines in two regions of Portugal, central Alentejo and Douro. In Alentejo Central it is known as Aragonez and used in red table wine blends of variable quality, while in the Douro it is known as Tinta Roriz and mainly used in blends to make port wine.


Teroldego is a red Italian grape variety grown primarily in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy.

Wine has been produced since ancient times in “Campo Rotaliano”, an alluvial plain between the rivers Adige and Noce. Teroldego takes its name from its traditional method of cultivation, trained on a system of “tirelle” or wire harnesses, an explanation that’s more likely, if less pretty, than its legendary association with German dialect for gold of the Tirol. It has recently been discovered to be a full sibling of the Dureza variety from France, which is one of the parents of Syrah.

The grapes ripen around the last week of September or the first week of October.

Terret Noir

Terret Noir is a dark-skinned wine grape grown primarily in the Rhône valley region of France. It is a permitted blending grape for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Like the related Terret Gris and Terret Blanc, the vine tends to bud late and grow vigorously. Terret Noir produces a light color wine that is perfumed and tart.

In 2007, there were 189 hectares (470 acres) of Terret Noir in France.


Tibouren is a red French wine grape variety that is primarily grown in Provence but originated in Greece and possibly even the Middle East. Intensely aromatic, with an earthy bouquet that wine expert Jancis Robinson describes as garrigue, Tibouren is often used in the production of rosés.

While the unique aroma and character of the wines produced by Tibouren are valued by producers, it is not a widely planted variety. This is due, in part, to the viticultural issues of the grape’s sensitivity to coulure and tendency to produce highly irregular yields from vintage to vintage.

Tinta Amarela

Tinta Amarela is a red wine grape that is commonly used in Port wine production. The grape is noted for its dark coloring. Its use in the Douro region has been increasing in recent years. The vine is susceptible to rot and performs better in dry, hot climates.

It is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in Portugal. It is the oldest and most widely planted grape variety in the Alentejo region, where it is called Trincadeira. The wine tends to be full-bodied and rich, with aromas of blackberries, herbs and flowers.

Tinta Barroca

Tinta Barroca is a Portuguese red wine grape that is grown primarily in the Douro region with some plantings in South Africa. In Portugal, it is a common blending grape in Port wine while in South Africa it is normally made into a varietal. The vine was introduced to the Douro region in the late 19th century and has the advantages of being able to withstand cool conditions while planted on north-facing slopes.

Tinta Francisca

Tinta Francisca is a red wine grape found primarily in the Douro DOC and is sometimes used in Port wine production. The grape is often confused with the similarly named Touriga Francesa. There are some theories that the grape maybe related to Pinot noir but no ampelographical link has yet been discovered between the two varieties. The grape is known for its sweet perfume but has less concentration than other Port grapes.

Tinta Miuda

Tinta Miuda is a Portuguese red wine grape that is grown primarily in the Oeste and Ribatejo regions. The grape is often used in the production of blended bulk and table wines but can also be used to produce varietal wine.

Tinta Negra Mole

Tinta Negra Mole is a red Portuguese wine grape commonly used in the production of Madeira. It is the most widely planted variety on the island of Madeira and is considered the industry’s “workhorse grape”.

The grape produces very high yields of sweet, pale red wine.

Tinta Cão

Tinta Cão is a red Portuguese wine grape variety that has been grown primarily in the Douro region since the sixteenth century. The vine produces very low yields which has led it close to extinction despite the high quality of wine that it can produce. Improvements in bilateral cordon training and experiments at University of California, Davis have helped to sustain the variety.  The vine favors cooler climates and can add finesse and complexity to a wine blend.

Touriga Francesa

Touriga Franca (or Touriga Francesa) is one of the major grape varieties used to produce port wine. Touriga Franca is lighter and more perfumed than Touriga Nacional, adding finesse to the wine. Touriga Franca has been described by Jancis Robinson as playing “Cabernet Franc to Touriga Nacional’s Cabernet Sauvignon“. Not much is known about the origins, but it was probably a cross of Mourisco de Semente and Touriga Nacional. Touriga Franca is quite similar to Touriga Nacional, needing harsh conditions to keep vigor down as it gets on the steep arid slopes of the Douro. It is usually trained low to the ground under one of the Royat systems. Yields are medium (1,5 kg/vine), not as bad as Touriga Nacional.

Touriga Nacional

Touriga Nacional is a variety of red wine grape, considered by many to be Portugal‘s finest. Despite the low yields from its small grapes, it plays a big part in the blends used for ports, and is increasingly being used for table wine in the Douro and Dão. Touriga Nacional provides structure and body to wine, with high tannins and concentrated flavors of black fruit. Jancis Robinson has compared its relationship with Touriga Francesa to the partnership between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the former providing structure, the latter filling out the bouquet.

Tinta Amarela

Tinta Amarela is a red wine grape that is commonly used in Port wine production. The grape is noted for its dark coloring. Its use in the Douro region has been increasing in recent years. The vine is susceptible to rot and performs better in dry, hot climates.

It is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in Portugal. It is the oldest and most widely planted grape variety in the Alentejo region, where it is called Trincadeira. The wine tends to be full-bodied and rich, with aromas of blackberries, herbs and flowers.

Uva di Troia

Uva di Troia is a red wine grape variety grown in the Italian region of Puglia, particularly in the areas around Andria and Barletta, and in the Province of Bari.

The name probably derives from the town of Troia in the Province of Foggia whose legendary founder was the Greek hero Diomedes, who had destroyed the ancient Troy. Synonyms include: Nero di Troia, Sumarello, Uva di Canosa, Uva di Barletta, Troiano, Tranese, and Uva della Marina.


Trollinger (or Schiava) is a light-red, late-maturing wine grape variety that was originally cultivated in the wine regions of South Tyrol and Trentino.

It probably reached the southern regions of Germany during Roman times. The variety is first mentioned under that name in fourteenth century documents, for example Martin Luther drank it according to a report of the papal legate Alexander around 1520. In the 1960s, it was crossed with the white grape Riesling to produce the cross Kerner.

Today it is almost exclusively cultivated on steep, sunny locations in the Württemberg wine region of Baden-Württemberg. In Württemberg, 21.2 percent of the vineyards are devoted to Trollinger grapes – one of the region’s top three grapes.

Trousseau Noir / Bastardo (grape)

Bastardo (Trousseau Noir, Trousseau) is an old variety of red wine grape. It is grown in small amounts in many parts of Western Europe; most famously it is used in Portuguese port wine. It makes deep cherry red wines with high alcohol and flavours of red berry fruits.


Vespolina is a red Italian wine grape variety that is planted in Piedmont around Gattinara. Ampelographer believe that the grape is most likely indigenous to this area of Piedmont and recent DNA profiling identified a parent-offspring relationship with Nebbiolo. Outside of Piedmont, it is found in the Lombardy region of Oltrepò Pavese where the grape is known as Ughetta. In Gattinara, Vespolina is sometimes blended with Nebbiolo and Bonarda Piemontese. Unlike the white Italian grape Vespaiolo, the root of the name Vespolina does not have a direct connection with vespe or wasp. However the true origins of the name are still unclear.

Vaccarese / Brun Argenté

Brun Argenté or Vaccarèse is a red wine grape that is grown primarily in the Rhone Valley in France. It is a permitted grape in the blend of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where the name Vaccarèse is used. However, in 2004 only 0.15% of the appellation’s surface was planted with the variety.

In similarity to Muscardin and Aubun, Brun Argenté is indigenous to this area of France.

Descriptions of the grape’s character diverge somewhat. It has been described as having similar characteristics as Syrah, producing wines with a peppery and tannic structure, but also as similar to Cinsaut and a producer of light red wines.

The vine tends to bud late and is sensitive to downy mildew.


Valdiguié is a red wine grape grown primarily in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France, where it is generally known by the alias Gros Auxerrois. In Gaillac it is known as Brocol, and in California it has been known as Napa Gamay or Gamay 15. Until 1980 Napa Gamay was believed to be the Gamay of Beaujolais, but following genetic analysis the name ‘Napa Gamay’ has been banned from U.S. wine labels since January 1999. Confusingly, both the Pinot Noir clone Gamay Beaujolais and ‘Napa Gamay’ could be labelled ‘Gamay Beaujolais’, a name banned on labels from April 2007.


Vespolina is a red Italian wine grape variety that is planted in Piedmont around Gattinara. Ampelographer believe that the grape is most likely indigenous to this area of Piedmont and recent DNA profiling identified a parent-offspring relationship with Nebbiolo. Outside of Piedmont, it is found in the Lombardy region of Oltrepò Pavese where the grape is known as Ughetta. In Gattinara, Vespolina is sometimes blended with Nebbiolo and Bonarda Piemontese. Unlike the white Italian grape Vespaiolo, the root of the name Vespolina does not have a direct connection with vespe or wasp. However the true origins of the name are still unclear.


Vranec (Macedonian: Вранец) or Vranac (Serbian: Вранац / Vranac; pronounced [ʋrǎːnats]) is an ancient variety of grape that is indigenous to the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro. Vranec is considered the most important variety of grape in Montenegro and one of the most important in the Republic of Macedonia. As it is a local specialty and due to its localised geography, it produces a dry red wine of a unique taste and character that is synonymous with the Balkans. Vranac berries are large and deeply coloured, with its dark berries growing on moderately vigorous and very productive vines. The fruit is harvested by hand. Depending on the area, this harvest can begin from mid-September and continue into October.

The word Vranec means strong black and powerful horse (black stallion), this is why wine made from and named after this variety of grape is associated with strength, potency, and success. Vran also means raven coloured or black, this is because red wine is also known as black wine in many South Slavic languages.


Wildbacher is a dark-skinned grape variety and specialty of the Styria region of Austria. It is a very old variety said to go back to the Celts, and manuscripts first record the name in the 16th century. The variety is not particularly demanding in terms of soil though it does require warm sites with sufficient aeration as it is prone to rot. The grapes tend to ripen late and yields can be inconsistent. Wines made from Wildbacher typically exhibit red berry and herbal flavors with a refreshing acidity.


Xinomavro (Greek: Ξινόμαυρο, English translation: “sour black”) is the principal red wine grape of the uplands of the Naoussa in the prefecture of Imathia, and Amyntaion areas, in Northern Greece. Various writers have compared Xinomavro to Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo, etc.. This grape is primarily cultivated in Naoussa, Goumenissa, Amyntaio, Rapsani, Trikomo, Siatista, Velvendo, and, on a lesser scale, on Mount Athos, at Ossa, Ioannina, Magnisia, Kastoria and Trikala. The total cultivated area is about 18 km².


Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kaštelanski, and also the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Puglia (the “heel” of Italy), where it was introduced in the 18th century. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, and became known by variations of the name “Zinfandel”, a name of uncertain origin.

The grapes typically produce a robust red wine, although a semi-sweet rosé (blush-style) wine called White Zinfandel has six times the sales of the red wine in the United States. The grape’s high sugar content can be fermented into levels of alcohol exceeding 15 percent.

The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruits like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas and in wines made from the earlier-ripening Primitivo clone.


Zweigelt is a red wine grape variety developed in 1922, at the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterneuburg, Austria, by Fritz Zweigelt. It was a crossing of St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. It is now the most widely-grown red grape variety in Austria, as well as having some presence in Canada‘s vineyards. In 2008, Austrian plantations stood at 6,512 hectares (16,090 acres), and have expanded in the 2000s as a part of general red wine trend in Austria.


Published on November 10, 2011 at 09:41  Leave a Comment  

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