The Super Gigantic
WWW Winegrape Glossary

By Anthony J. Hawkins

  • Jump to "Classic Grape Varieties and Synonyms"
  • Jump to "Lesser/Crossed European Grape Varieties"

  • Glossary Foreword
    [Image: Gruener Veltliner]
    The following Wine-grape Glossary is designed to aid individuals interested in knowing something about the fruit that is transformed into his or her favorite wine. It can be downloaded in either its ascii or hypertext format by the reader for free distribution among individuals. The only restriction is the right of authorship credit which should be retained on all copies made.

    Because the potential scope is so huge only the more commonly grown or known popular grape-names are referenced. Seekers of latin-style botanical names, hybrid-grape numberings, vine ampelographic descriptions etc. are advised to refer to the appropriate textbook. Occasionally encountered alias lesser names are highlighted in "Lynx" protocol accessed text but not "jumpably" referenced because they are not regarded as being important. Changes and modifications will probably be made from time to time as new facts emerge in the literature.

    Admirers of wine know that the type of grape from which wines are fermented will in large part determine the basic fruit-flavor characteristics, both aroma and taste, of the final product. As a result, wines of high reputation are often regarded as associated with a single grape variety, often referred to as a "varietal", especially in the english-speaking world.

    Because of this, such grape-names as Cabernet Sauvignon for red Bordeaux, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc for Sauternes, Pinot Noir for red Burgundy and Chardonnay for white Burgundy, (etc), are now embedded in the "wine-speak" language. However these names can be misleading because they imply a precision that in reality is not present.

    An example is that there is no such thing as "the" Pinot Noir. In fact accuracy demands that it be referred to as "a" Pinot Noir because the name does not belong to a unique vine species but to what the french grower calls a "cépage", that is, a growth defined as a group of closely related but not quite identical vine species sharing the same genetic background. These different strains of Pinot Noir are technically known as "clones", usually individually identified by adding a secondary name that refers to a special characteristic, place name or clone developer etc. It has been estimated that there are a minimum of forty-seven Pinot Noir clone versions currently, (1996), planted in the vineyards of Burgundy and nearby districts in France alone - resulting in a great variation of wine quality and aging ability etc. The same sort of situation applies to many other strains of the "cépages nobles", or "noble varieties", such as the Riesling and others.

    Another example is the assumption, commonly made, that the highly regarded red Bordeaux wines are made entirely from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. In fact many of the famous "great crus" vineyards in Pomerol and St.Émilion contain none at all. It is mainly grown in the Médoc and Graves subdistricts and even there is only one of several vine varieties, recent figures showing that fully 40% of the grapes grown consist of Merlot. Normally the wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with wines made from such distantly related grapes as the Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and others.

    Knowing the above facts, the following information should be used with care. Many of the grape names will be found to be connected in some way and are cross callable. When they are not it is usually for reasons of brevity, or lack of in-depth knowledge, because it would not serve any useful purpose to pursue the details about thousands of clones worldwide.