Wine vaults

Back to Introduction

Go To Lesser Varieties


[A] Aubaine - Auvernat - Auvernat Noir

[B] Beaunois - Bigney - Black St. Peter - Blanc Doux - Blauburgunder - Blauer Klevner - Bordo - Bouchet - Bouchy - Breton

[C] Cabernet Franc - Cabernet Sauvignon - Carmenet - Chardonnay - Chenin Blanc - Chevrier - Chiavennasca - Columbier - Coraillod - Crabutet Noir

[E] Epinette Blanche

[F] Feinburgunder - Frühburgunder

[G] Gentil Rose Aromatique - Gewürztraminer - Green Grape - Gros Bouchet

[H] Hunter Riesling

[J] (Johannisberg) Riesling

[M] Malaga - Medoc Noir - Merlot - Morillon - Muscat - Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains - Muskat-Sylvaner

[N] Nebbiolo - Noirien

[O] Orange Muscat

[P] Petit Cabernet - Petite Sainte-Marie - Petite Vidure - Picutener - Pugnet - Pineau de la Loire - Pinot Blanco - Pinot Chardonnay - Pinot Noir - Plavac Mali - Primitivo

[R] Red Traminer - Rheinriesling - Rhine Riesling - Riesling - Riesling Renano

[S] Sauvignon Blanc - Sauvignon Gris - Sauvignon Noir - Sauvignon Jaune - Sauvignon Rose - Schwartz Klevner - Semillion - Sémillon - Shiraz - Spanna - Spätburgunder - Steen - Syrah

[T] Traminer Musque

[U] Uva Francese

[V] Veron - Vert Dore - Vidure - Vranac

[W] White Pinot - Weisser Clevner - Weisser Riesling - White Riesling

[Z] Zinfandel


BLACK ST. PETER: Thought to be the early 19th century Californian name for the variety subsequently known as Zinfandel. (See below).

BLAUBURGUNDER: Clone of Pinot Noir widely grown in Germany and Austria. Also known as Spätburgunder in Austria.

[Image: Cabernet franc]
CABERNET FRANC: Recently - (4-97) - discovered to be one of the parent grape varieties that gave rise to the Cabernet Sauvignon cultivar. Mainly found in cooler, damper climatic conditions than its offspring. Shows moderately vigorous growth and earlier wood and crop maturation than Cabernet Sauvignon. Recommended for grafting to the 3309 root in New York state where it has shown good winter hardiness. Widely grown in the Loire region where it is known as the Breton and in large areas of southwest France where it is sometimes known as Bouchy or Bouchet. Other french synonym names are Carmenet, Gros Bouchet and Veron. In N.E Italy the variety is known as the Bordo winegrape. Bordeaux wines commonly contain a blend of both Cabernet varietal wines, a practice increasingly being followed in California and elsewhere. Wine from these grapes has a deep purple color, when young, with a herbaceous aroma. Just like Cabernet Sauvignon, North American growth is mainly confined to the cooler coastal regions; Long Island (N.Y.) and the Pacific Northwest showing signs of being very hospitable. New Zealand has also proved to be a potential good home.

[Image: Cabernet sauvignon]
CABERNET SAUVIGNON: A "noble" grape famous as one of the main varieties, along with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and others used to create the magnificent french Bordeaux region blended red wines. This variety has several alias names such as Petit Cabernet, Petit Vidure and Vidure. (The latter name is the one used by those who subscribed to the now dubious theory that it was the original vine from which the cépage originated). Where grown in Italy it is sometimes referred to as the Uva Francese. Although recorded as present in the Bordeaux region since at least the 17th century, parental provenance has always been unsure. Recent research, (Meredith and Bowers, "Nature Genetics Journal" 5-97), has unexpectedly discovered that the original parents of this variety were Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc, an astounding reversal of previous assumptions. A "hard" grape, it helps make wines of classic breed, intensity and complexity that often need to bottle-age for at least 5-10 years in order to reach peak flavor condition. The most successful plantings in North America are mainly on Long Island (N.Y.) and the cooler regions of northern California. The vine is quite cold-hardy, although it acclimates slowly and can be injured by cold freezes in December and early January. In New York state the recommended rootstock graft is 3309. It has a late bud break, is relatively resistant to cracking and bunch rots, has vigorous growth and ripens in late October. In the warmer regions of California, grapes made into a single varietal wine will often produce higher than optimum levels of alcohol due to high sugar content and, conversely, lower than optimum acid levels in most years and so may tend to age less successfully than the blended french versions. Aromas and flavors include: Black-currant, blackberry, mint (etc). In the last decades of the twentieth century many other countries have seen their regions develop into prime producers - (e.g: Argentina, Chile, Italy and New Zealand).

[Image: Chardonnay]
CHARDONNAY: (aka Feinburgunder and Morillon in Austria). This variety is the best-known white wine grape grown in France and is also known as Pinot Chardonnay, an invented synonym name for the benefit of Anglo/American consumers, reportedly derived from an earlier period when the variety was mistakenly considered to be a white mutation of Pinot Noir, and still used by some in the Mâcon and Chablis regions. Other local names in the various regions of France include the aliases Aubaine, Auvernat, Beaunois, Epinette Blanche, Petite Sainte-Marie and Weisser Clevner etc. The Chardonnay vine is widely planted in the Burgundy and Chablis regions. Clone variety numbers commonly used include 76, 95, 124 and 548, plus some others, grafted to suitable calcium/lime tolerant, moderately vigorous rootstocks such as 41B or 161-49C. There, as in other cool climate regions, the wine made from it is often aged in small oak barrels to produce strong flavors and aromas. Possessing a fruity character - (e.g: Apple, lemon, citrus) - subsequent barrel-influenced flavors include "oak", "vanilla", and malolactic fermentation imparted "creamy- buttery" components. Hugely successful in many regions of the world due to its mid-season ripening - (late September to early October) - and versatility. Quite cold-hardy although early to bud and susceptible to bunch rots, yet retains fruit crispness in warmer growing years. Australia and New Zealand have succeeded in producing world-class wines in recent years, from selected clones of this variety, by using cold fermentation methods that result in a desired "flinty" taste in the dry versions.

CHENIN BLANC: A widely grown white-wine grape variety, known as Steen in South Africa, Pineau de la Loire in the Loire region of France and under the alias name White Pinot (Pinot Blanco) elsewhere in the world. Often made in a number of styles with or without some residual sugar. It is the favored grape of the Anjou region of France and, although naturally a hard, acidic grape slow to mature, is made into fine sweet wines that age well for a least ten years in the bottle. In the U.S. the grape all too often ends up in the generic jug wines of bulk producers as acidity enhancer for otherwise flabby high sugar/alcohol blends.

FEINBURGUNDER: Synonym name for the Chardonnay variety in Germany and the regions of Vienna and Burgenland of Austria. (See also Morillon below).

[Image: Gewuerztraminer]
GEWÜRZTRAMINER: ("geh-verts-tram-in-er"). A clone of the parent Traminer variety. Widely grown, and one of the mainstay grapes for which the Alsace is famous, the popular Gewürztraminer produces white wines with a strong floral aroma and lychee nut like flavor. It is often regarded as somewhat similar in style to the (Johannisberg) Riesling - (below) - when vinified as slightly sweet yet tart. Occasionally it is made into a "botrytized" late harvest dessert style wine. Does well in the cooler coastal regions of Western U.S. - (where it ripens in late September) - Australia and New Zealand. In Australia the variety is also known under several alias names. Among these are Traminer Musque, Gentil Rose Aromique and Red Traminer. Cool climate growers should be aware that, in addition to quite large successful plantings of the above variety, a well-regarded cross named Traminette, developed by Cornell University in the U.S.A over the last 30 years, is currently very successfully cultivated on small commercial acreages in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and several other cool northern regions of the USA.

[Image: Riesling]
(JOHANNISBERG) RIESLING: (aka White Riesling in New York state (USA), Ontario and British Columbia (Canada), Riesling in Germany, Rheinriesling in Austria, Riesling Renano in Italy and Rhine Riesling in Australia). A white-wine variety widely grown along the Rhine river and tributaries - (e.g: Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Mosel, Nahe regions etc.) - in Germany and also in other cool temperate regions of Europe. It is also grown in N. America, where it can produce a flowery, fruity dry wine with high acid and low alcohol not unlike the german "Kabinett" version or a semi-dry style with some residual sugar similar to the german "Spätlese" version. If infected with appropriate amounts of "botrytis", it can make outstanding late-harvest wines - (e.g: comparable to the german "Auslese" series). The Finger Lakes region of New York state in the U.S. and the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada produce excellent dry versions in the Mosel and Alsation styles in addition to consistent freezing temperature extracted juice made into "ice-wine", (aka "eiswein"). Successful clones in New York include the Neustadt selected Clone 90, Clone 239 of the Moselle and Clone 356 from Geisenheim. The North-West coast of N. America seems to have the right conditions for creating the richer, earthier Rheinhessen taste in many versions, as do the cooler regions of California. Australia now produces excellent versions of the dry, crisp Alsation-style, as well as fruitier semi-sweet Mosel-type wines, as has New Zealand in recent years.

[Image: Merlot]
MERLOT: Classic grape widely grown in the Bordeaux region of France and elsewhere. The red wine bears a resemblance to Cabernet Sauvignon wine, with which it is sometimes blended, but is usually not so intense, with softer tannins. Matures earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, with mid-late ripening. Moderate cold-hardiness. In California it is a popular varietal on its own and also as a percentage constituent of the red wine blend resembling Bordeaux claret called "Meritage". It does extremely well in the state of Washington and shows great promise on Long Island, N.Y. Results in the Finger Lakes region of N.Y., where it ripens in early October, have been mixed due its relative lack of cold-hardiness and the fruit subject to bunch rots. Other countries such as Chile, Argentina and New Zealand also seem to have a suitable climate for this variety. The grape has many alias names such as Médoc Noir, Petit Merle, Vitraille, Crabutet Noir and Bigney.

MORILLON: Synonym name for the Chardonnay grape in the Austrian region of Styria. (See also Feinburgunder above).

MUSCAT: Another "cépage" family of clone varieties, making both red and white wines. Most are of the muscat type, having the unique aromatic character commonly associated with muscat wines. These include the Muscat Blanc, (a.k.a Muscadel, Moscato di Canelli), all alias names for the premier cépage varietal Muscat Blanc à Petit Grains. These clones are mostly used for making medium-sweet and dessert style table or fortified wines. An example of these is "Constantia", a centuries-old wine blend still made in South Africa from the Orange Muscat grape, a darker skinned mutation of the Muscat Frontignan clone, (the latter also known as the Frontignac in Australia), and wine made from the Pontac, a red-wine grape translocated from south-west France. Small acreages of Orange Muscat in the Central Valley of California allow a local variation of this wine to be made by at least one producer, a situation that also occurs in Australia. Hot climate producers of sparkling wines often use the various Muscat grape clones to create wines in the style of Italian Spumante. Lesser regarded clones of the cépage include Muscat of Alexandria and others.


NEBBIOLO: (has synonym names of Spanna in the northern hills, Picutener and Pugnet in N.W. Piedmont and as Chiavennasca grape in Lombardy). Grape responsible for the long-lived, fine red wines of the Piedmont region of Italy. The role of honor includes traditionally vinified "Barolo", "Gattinara", "Barbaresco" and "Ghemme"; all huge, tannic wines that at their best can take decades to mature.

ORANGE MUSCAT: (See Muscat above).

PINEAU DE LA LOIRE: Alternate name for Chenin Blanc. (See above).

PINOT CHARDONNAY: Better known as the Chardonnay grape. (See above).

[Image: Blauburgunder]
PINOT NOIR: The premier grape "cépage" of the Burgundy region of France, producing a red wine that is lighter in color than the Bordeaux reds (such as the Cabernet's or Merlot). Cépage clones of this variety have many alias names such as Auvernat Noir, Blauer Klevner, Coraillod, Noirien, Schwartz Klevner, Vert Dore, and even plain numbers. It has proved to be a capriciously acting and difficult grape for N. American wineries, best results being obtained in cool, fog-liable regions such as the Carneros region of northern California. Choice of a suitable clone version is critical, as is careful vineyard pruning technique and planting density. The importance of clone version is amply demonstrated with the recommendation of the "Wadensville" (Wädenswil) and "Mariafelder" (Klevner Mariafeld) clones, the latter ripening in mid-October, for use in the Finger Lakes region of New York State where they has consistently produced quality wines despite not being as cold-hardy as some other clones. Oregon growers seem to have a preference for the "Pommard" clone. The worlds best "quality" wines are reputed to result from a mixing of suitable clones; a common practice in Burgundy, France, where numbers 667, 777 and 828 appear to be currently favored in addition to the reliable 114 and 115 when grafted to suitably limestone tolerant, moderately vigorous rootstocks such as Fercal and 161-49C. Cherished aromas and flavors often detected in varietal wines include cherry, mint, raspberry, truffles and the ubiquitous gamey odor in new wines often referred to as "animalé" by the french winemaker. German growers know this grape under several alias names, such as Spätburgunder (or as Frühburgunder, thought to be its mutant clone). The mutant clone variety known as Pinot Meunier is widely planted around the world under several alias names and is used to produce the main blending wine for so-called "Blanc de Noir" sparkling wines. In California the cépage has often been erroneously divided into various Gamay varieties until recent times.

RIESLING: Also known as the Weisser Riesling. Premier white wine grape of Germany and Alsace, known as Rheinriesling in Austria and Riesling Renano in Northern Italy. (See (Johannisberg) Riesling above).

RHEINRIESLING: Austrian name for the Riesling grape of Germany. (See above).

RHINE RIESLING: Australian name for the Riesling grape of Germany. (See above).

[Image: Sauvignon blanc]
SAUVIGNON BLANC: Classic white-wine variety commonly planted in the Bordeaux and eastern Loire regions of France. Shows vigorous growth and is late maturing. Members of the cépage are now thought to be descendants of the ancient Fié variety once common in the Loire region of France. The sauvignon cépage apparently derives the latter part of its name from the color of its skin. Other members include the recent - (4-97) - genetic parental link to Cabernet Sauvignon and other mutations known as the Sauvignon Noir, Sauvignon Jaune and Sauvignon Rose. The last named grape is also known as Sauvignon Gris. In the Styria region of Austria the variety is occasionally referred to as the Muskat-Sylvaner. All versions of the cépage show a tendency towards a grassy, herbaceous flavor in the grapewine, often referred to as "gooseberry" by professional tasters, when the grapes are grown in temperate regions. In warmer regions, the flavors and aromas tend to be more citruslike, (e.g: grapefruit or pear), plus the characteristic "earthy" taste. New Zealand has had much success with the grape in recent years.

[Image: Semillon]
SÉMILLON: Classic grape widely grown in the Bordeaux region of France and elsewhere. This grape variety has a distinct fig-like character. In France, Australia and increasingly in California it is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to cut some of the strong "gooseberry" flavor of the latter grape and create better balance. Wineries in many countries also use the grape to create dry single-varietal white wines. Australian grapes, particularly those grown in the Hunter Valley region, where the fruit has also been known historically as the Hunter Riesling, are famous for producing dry and sweet wines from this varietal that will age admirably for 20 to 30 years. Other alias names used for this variety are Chevrier, Columbier, Malaga and Blanc Doux. Those grown in South Africa, where the grape is known as the Green Grape and also as Semillion, have not fared so well in popular favor and are not extensively planted at present. When infected by the "noble rot" fungi, (Botrytis cineria), it can be used to produce first-class sweet white wines such as those of the french Sauternes.

SHIRAZ: Alternate name for the french Syrah clone grape grown in Australia and responsible for very big red wines that are not quite as intense in flavor as the french Rhone versions. In the past it was also known under the alias name Hermitage.

SPANNA: Alternate local name for the Nebbiolo grape grown in the Piedmont district of Vercelli in Italy.

SPÄTBURGUNDER: (see Blauburgunder above).

STEEN: (see Chenin Blanc above).

SYRAH: A grape variety associated with the Rhone Valley region of France, famous for creating "Hermitage" red wine. There, some regard the grape as taking two forms, the Grosse Syrah and Petite Syrah, distinguished only by berry size. Experts reject this distinction but it has in the past led some wine producers in North and South America to mistake plantings of the californian Petite Sirah, which produces a very dark red and tannic wine judged simple in comparison to the true Rhone Syrah, as the latter grape. DNA analysis has now shown - 8/1997 - there is in fact a probable relationship due to the chance seedling or selection, whose parentage derives from the Rhone region Peloursin and Syrah cultivars, discovered and named Durif in the 1880's. In the cooler regions of Australia a (presumed) clone of the Rhone variety, once known as the Scyras, is grown very successfully and now known as Shiraz. In the state of California, depending on location, vintage or fermentation technique, the grape is used to either produce a spicy, complex wine or a simple wine. Considerable acreage is grown in South Africa, and also in Argentina where it has historically been called the Balsamina grape until the late 1960's.

WEISSER RIESLING: South African, (and german), name for the true Riesling grape of Germany. Also called the White Riesling. It is important to note that the Cape Riesling, aka Paarl or South African Riesling, is actually the Crouchen grape that originated in the Pyrenees region of France and was relocated to South Africa where it can be legally sold under the name "Riesling".

WHITE RIESLING: Alias name for the (Johannisberg) Riesling grape. Both names are used, sometimes in the same region, in the USA, Canada and elsewhere.

ZINFANDEL: An important grape variety, also thought to be the variety once known as Black St. Peter in early 19th century California lore, currently grown in California and used to produce robust red wine as well as very popular "blush wines" called "white Zinfandel". Zinfandel is noted for the fruit-laden, berry-like aroma and prickly taste characteristics in its red version and pleasant strawberry reminders when made into a "blush" wine. While its origins are not clear it has been positively identified, via DNA analysis at UC Davis (California), as the Primitivo (di Gioia), a variety grown in Apulia, southern Italy. According to an Italian report of 1996 the latter variety may have a relationship to members of the Vranac variety cépage grown in Montenegro, the state that, combined with Serbia, constitutes what remains of the former Yugoslavia. Other contenders were certain mutated members of the Mali Plavac, (a.k.a Plavac Mali), cépage varieties which are mainly grown in the coastal area known as Dalmatia, a province of Croatia recently a part of the former Yugoslavia and located just across the Adriatic sea from the shores of Italian Apulia. Research is presently (7/98) underway to explore possible relationships. The origin of the grapename "Zinfandel" in California is currently not known but is thought by some to be a corruption of Zierfandler, a completely unrelated white variety still grown in the Balkan region of Europe. It has been noted that mid-19th century catalogs mention a red (ie. "roter") mutation of that variety. A plausible hypothesis is that a naming error arose due to attribution and shipping mistakes made during unreliable early-19th century transport and handling to New World destinations.

End of Classic Grape Varieties and Synonyms Text.