Chapter 9.1.3. General View on White Grapes Varieties


Camaralet is a white French wine grape variety that is grown primarily in Southwest France. While historically known for its strong aromatics and flavor profile, the grape has been declining in importance and planting and is now nearly extinct.


Carignan is a red wine grape that may have originated in Cariñena, Aragon and was later transplanted to Sardinia, elsewhere in Italy, France, Algeria, and much of the New World. Along with Aramon, it was once considered one of the main grapes responsible for France’s wine lake. In California, the grape is rarely used to make varietal wines, but some examples from old vines do exist. In Australia, Carignan is used as a component of blended wines. In the Languedoc, the grape is often blended with Cinsaut, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre and Merlot. It has an upright growth habit and can be grown without a trellis. It was crossed to Cabernet Sauvignon to give Ruby Cabernet.


Catarratto is a white Italian wine grape planted primarily in Sicily where it is the most widely planted grape. Overproduction in recent years has led to this grape being a substantial contributor to the European wine lake problem. Catarratto can make full bodied wines with lemon notes.


Cayetana or Cayetana Blanca is a white Spanish wine grape. It is grown mainly in the south of Spain, especially in the Denominación de Origen of Montilla-Moriles and in the region of Extremadura and in the Jerez region where it is often distilled for use in brandy production.

Cerceal / Sercial

Sercial is the name of a white grape grown in Portugal, especially on the island of Madeira. It has given name to the dryest of the four classic varieties of Madeira fortified wine.

The grape is grown in diminishing quantities at the southern end of the island. After phylloxera devastated the Madeira’s vineyards the grape became more common on the mainland, where it is known as Esgana or Esgana Cão. Its late ripening allows it to retain its characteristic acidity.

The anglicised name Sercial came to be associated with the Madeira style rather than the grape variety, being the lightest, most acidic and delicate expression of Madeira that takes the longest to mature. EU rules for varietal names on wine labels now require Madeiras labelled Sercial to be made from minimum 85% Sercial.


Cereza (Spanish for “cherry“) is a white Argentine wine grape variety. Like Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris, Cereza is a pink skinned variety. It is a crossing of Muscat of Alexandria and Listan Negro.


Chardonnay (pronounced: [ʃaʁ.dɔ.nɛ]) is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. It is originated from the Burgundy wine region of eastern France but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a “rite of passage” and an easy segue into the international wine market.

The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as terroir and oak.It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France to New World wines with tropical fruit flavors and lots of oak.

Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne. A peak in popularity in the late 1980s gave way to a backlash among those wine drinkers who saw the grape as a leading negative component of the globalization of wine. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most widely-planted grape varieties, with over 160,000 hectares (400,000 acres) worldwide, second only to Airén among white wine grapes and planted in more wine regions than any other grape – including Cabernet Sauvignon.

For much of its history, a connection was assumed between Chardonnay and Pinot noir or Pinot blanc. In addition to being found in the same region of France for centuries, ampelographers noted that the leaves of each plant have near-identical shape and structure. Pierre Galet disagreed with this assessment, believing that Chardonnay was not related to any other major grape variety. Viticulturalists Maynard Amerine & Harold Olmo proposed a descendency from a wild Vitis vinifera vine that was a step removed from white Muscat. Chardonnay’s true origins were further obscured by vineyard owners in Lebanon and Syria, who claimed that the grape’s ancestry could be traced to the Middle East, from where it was introduced to Europe by returning Crusaders, though there is little external evidence to support that theory. Another theory stated that it originated from an ancient indigenous vine found in Cyprus.

Modern DNA fingerprinting research at University of California, Davis, now suggests that Chardonnay is the result of a cross between the Pinot and Gouais Blanc (Heunisch) grape varieties. It is believed that the Romans brought Gouais Blanc from the Balkans, and it was widely cultivated by peasants in Eastern France. The Pinot of the French aristocracy grew in close proximity to the Gouais Blanc, giving both grapes ample opportunity to interbreed. Since the two parents were genetically distant, many of the crosses showed hybrid vigour and were selected for further propagation. These “successful” crosses included Chardonnay and siblings such as Aligoté, Aubin Vert, Auxerrois, Bachet noir, Beaunoir, Franc Noir de la-Haute-Saône, Gamay Blanc Gloriod, Gamay noir, Melon, Knipperlé, Peurion, Roublot, Sacy and Dameron.

Chardonnay is one of the dominant grapes in Burgundy though Pinot noir vines outnumber it by nearly a 3 to 1 ratio. In addition to Chablis, it is found in the Côte d’Or (largely in the Côte de Beaune) as well as the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais. It is grown in 8 Grand cru vineyards; The “Montrachets”-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet as well as Charlemagne, Corton-Charlemagne & Le Musigny. In addition to being the most expensive, the Burgundy examples of Chardonnay were long considered the benchmark standard of expressing terroir through Chardonnay. The Montrachets are noted for their high alcohol levels, often above 13%, as well as deep concentration of flavors. The vineyards around Chassagne-Montrachet tend to have a characteristic hazelnut aroma to them while those of Puligny-Montrachet have more steely flavors. Both grand cru and premier cru examples from Corton-Charlemagne have been known to demonstrate marzipan while Meursault wines tend to be the most round and buttery examples.

South of the Côte d’Or is the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais wine regions. The villages of Mercurey, Montagny-lès-Buxy and Rully are the largest producers of Chardonnay in the Côte Chalonnaise with the best made examples rivaling those of the Côte de Beaune. In the Mâconnais, white wine production is centered around the town of Mâcon and the Pouilly-Fuissé region. The full bodied wines of the Pouilly-Fuissé have long held cult wine status with prices that can rival the Grand cru white burgundies. Further south, in the region of Beaujolais, Chardonnay has started to replace Aligote as the main white wine grape and is even replacing Gamay in some areas around Saint-Véran. With the exception of Pouilly-Fuissé, the wines of the Mâconnais are the closest Burgundy example to “New World” Chardonnay though it is not identical. Typically Mâcon blanc, basic Bourgogne, Beaujolais blanc and Saint-Véran are meant to be consumed within 2 to 3 years of release. However, many of the well made examples of white Burgundy from the Côte d’Or will need at least three years in the bottle to develop enough to express the aromas and character of the wine. Hazelnut, licorice and spice are some of the flavors that can develop as these wines age.


Chasan is a white French wine grape variety grown primarily in the Languedoc wine region. According to the Vitis International Variety Catalogue, the variety is a crossing of Listan and Pinot. However, some sources (such as wine experts Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke) describe the grape as a crossing between Listan and Chardonnay. All sources agree, however, that the variety was created in 1958 by Paul Truel at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) – Unité Expérimentale du Domaine de Vassal & Montpellier SupAgro. One possible source for the confusion of the grapes parentage is that a common synonym of several clones of Chardonnay are sometimes listed as Pinot Chardonnay and Chardonnay, itself, was a crossing of Pinot and the obscure French wine grape Gouais blanc.


Chasselas or Chasselas Blanc is a wine grape variety grown in Switzerland, France, Germany, Portugal, Baja Norte, Mexico, Hungary and New Zealand.

Theories of its origin vary. Pierre Galet believes it is a native Swiss variety.[1]

Widely grown in the cantons of Switzerland where it has several regional synonym names, the main one being Fendant in the Valais canton. It is considered an ideal pairing for raclette or fondue. Chasselas is also known as Perlan in the Mandement district. In 2009, it was Switzerland’s second most grown grape variety at 4,013 hectares (9,920 acres).[2]

In Germany with 1,123 hectares (2,770 acres), it is almost exclusively grown in the wine region of Baden under the name Gutedel.

Chasselas is mostly vinified to be a full, dry and fruity white wine. It is also suitable as a table grape, grown widely for this purpose in Turkey.

In France it is mostly grown in the Loire region where it is converted into a blend with Sauvignon Blanc called “Pouilly-sur-Loire” and in the Savoie region where it is treated in the Swiss manner. In New Zealand it is mainly made into popular sweet white wines. California and Australian growers know this variety under the alias names of Chasselas Dore or Golden Chasselas.

Michel Chapoutier has stated that he is looking for land for a vineyard in England, which would be planted with Chasselas. He said that he believed Chasselas would suit the English climate and terroir very well.


Chenel is a white South African wine grape variety that was produced by a crossing of Chenin blanc and Trebbiano. The variety was produced in the late 20th century for viticultural purposes and its resistance to various grape rots.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin blanc (known also as Pineau de la Loire among other names), is a white wine grape variety from the Loire valley of France. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines, although it can produce very bland, neutral wines if the vine’s natural vigor is not controlled. Outside the Loire it is found in most of the New World wine regions; it is the most widely planted variety in South Africa, where it is also known as Steen. The grape may have been one of the first to be grown in South Africa by Jan van Riebeeck in 1655, or it may have come to that country with Huguenots fleeing France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Chenin Blanc was often misidentified in Australia as well, so tracing its early history in the country is not easy. It may have been introduced in James Busby‘s collection of 1832, but C. Waterhouse was growing Steen at Highercombe in Houghton, South Australia by 1862.

It provides a fairly neutral palate for the expression of terroir, vintage variation and the winemaker‘s treatment. In cool areas the juice is sweet but high in acid with a full-bodied fruity palate. In the unreliable summers of northern France, the acidity of under ripened grapes was often masked with chaptalization with unsatisfactory results, whereas now the less ripe grapes are made into popular sparkling wines such as Crémant de Loire. The white wines of the Anjou AOC are perhaps the best expression of Chenin as a dry wine, with flavors of quince and apples. In nearby Vouvray AOC they aim for an off-dry style, developing honey and floral characteristics with age. In the best vintages the grapes can be left on the vines to develop noble rot, producing an intense, viscous dessert wine which may improve considerably with age.

Clairette Blanche

Clairette blanche is a white wine grape variety most widely grown in the wine regions of Provence, Rhône and Languedoc in France. At the end of the 1990s, there were 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of Clairette Blanche grown in France, although volumes are decreasing.

Clairette Blanche was often used to make vermouth, to which it is suited as it produces wine high in alcohol and low in acidity, and therefore yields wines that are sometimes described as “flabby” and which tend to oxidize easily. These problems have sometimes been partially overcome by blending it with high-acid varieties such as Piquepoul Blanc. It is allowed into many appellations of Southern Rhône, Provence and Languedoc. The white wines Clairette de Bellegarde and Clairette du Languedoc are made entirely from Clairette Blanche, while the sparkling wine Clairette de Die can also contain Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Clairette Blanche is frequently used in the blended white Vin de pays from Languedoc.

It is also one of the thirteen grape varieties permitted in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. With 2.5% of the appellation’s vineyards planted in Clairette Blanche in 2004 it is the most common white variety in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, slightly ahead of Grenache Blanc.

Outside of France, it is also grown in South Africa for sparkling wine, Australia and Sardinia.


Claverie is a white French wine grape variety that was once widely planted in the Landes region by Dutch traders who prized the varieties ability to produce wines with high alcohol levels. Today the variety exist in small isolated plantings in Southwest France and is nearing extinction.


Cococciola is a white Italian wine grape variety that is was[clarification needed] one of the few Italian grape varieties to have expanded in plantings in the late 20th century when measures to combat Europe’s wine lake and the general decline of viticulture saw the numbers of many varieties decline. Today Cococciola is a permitted variety in the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) from the Abruzzo region of central Italy.

Published on December 6, 2011 at 09:57  Leave a Comment  

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