Category Archives: Grape Varieties

Malbec Around the World

malbec-sign

Malbec is to Argentina as Shiraz is to Australia. This clearly defines the importance of Malbec wines in Argentina. However, this red wine grape is not grown only in Argentina. It is also grown in different parts of the world, including Australia. In fact, it is believed to have originated in France, and from there, it was introduced in Argentina by Michel Pouget in 1868. The wine is known for its dark fruit flavours, plump and smoky finish. The style of wine varies from region to region and this makes Malbec wines from some regions more in demand than the others.

Malbec Wine – Australia

In Australia, this grape is grown in 560 hectares of land area. 3000 tonnes of grapes grown on this area were crushed in 2016 with one-third of these coming from the cool climatic regions of the country. The vineyard area under Malbec has seen sharp increase since 2010. This grape is grown in almost equal proportions in five different wine regions- Riverland, Limestone Coast, Riverina, Clare Valley and Padthaway. The Malbec wine of Australia is exported mostly to United Kingdom and price of bottled wine which is exported the most varies from A$5 to A$ 7.49 per litre.

Malbec Wine – Argentina

In Argentina, the Malbec vines occupy an area of more than 20000 hectares. These grow in small clusters which have smaller berries and come in tighter clusters. The Malbec of Argentina is deep in colour and fruity flavours. These also have good ageing potential than the French ones.  The regions which is particularly noted for growing of Malbec grape variety is Mendoza region.

Malbec Wine – France

In France, Malbec grapes are grown in Bordeaux region. At one point of time, the grape was so popular in France that it was grown in 30 departments of France and had more than 1000 names. However, with the passage of time, its importance declined and it gave way to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The stronghold of Malbec is the Cahors region where it is required by law to be present at least 70 percent in wines with remaining being Tannat and Merlot.

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Grenache Wines and GSM Blends of Australia

Grenache is a red grape variety. It is believed to have originated in Spain at first. In Australia, this grape is grown in famous wine regions of Riverland, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Clare Valley. The first two regions take up as much as 60% of the total growing area for this grape. Grenache grape is grown in 1.51 thousand hectares of land area within these regions. This is just more than 1 percent of the total vineyards area of Australia. The acreage under this grape has seen a constant decline since 2001. The peak area under cultivation for this grape was 2.5 thousand hectares in 2002. The decline is attributed to many reasons, chief among these being the fact that growers give preference to other varieties.

Grenache is one of the grape in popular wine blend of GSM wines. The other two being Shiraz and Mourvedre. Shiraz is undoubtedly the most important wine grape variety in Australia. It is grown in the largest area in Australia. However, Mourvedre wine grape is rather insignificant, growing in only 750 hectares of land area. Mourvedre is also called Mataro or Monastrell and is believed to have originated from Spain. The following chart summarises the relative positions of these grape varieties in Australian context:

Variety Area (in ‘000 hectares) Tonnes (in ‘000 )
Grenache 1.51 13.0
Shiraz 39.89 395.0
Mourvedre 0.75 7.4

 

In the making of the blended GSM wines, these three varieties are mixed in different proportions. Grenache or Mourvedre are rarely produced as single varietal wines, but Shiraz is very popular as a single varietal wine.

Moscato Wines- Comparison with Other White Wine Varieties

Moscato is a white wine grape variety which is a little sweet in taste. In Australia, there are three different grape varieties with names similar to Moscato wine. These are: Muscat Gordo Blanco, Muscat a Petits Grains Blanc and Muscat a Petits Grains Rouge. While the first two are white wine varieties, the last one is a red wine variety. There shall not be a confusion between these three.

Here are some vital statistics relating to these Moscato wines in Australia:

Muscat a Petits Grains Rouge Muscat a Petits Grains Blanc Muscat Gordo Blanco
Type Red Wine White Wine White Wine
Area (in hectares) 240 850 2210
Grapes crushed (in ‘000 tonnes) 1.8 14.2 52
Top GI region Riverina, Swan Hill Riverina Riverland, Murray-Darling

As can be seen from the chart above that it is the Muscat Gordo Blanco varietal which is the main white wine varietal, being grown on 2210 hectares of land area. However, this is still a less popular white grape variety when compared with the other major ones.

Variety Area (in ‘000 hectares) Grapes Crushed (in ‘000 tonnes)
Chardonnay 21.44 340.8
Sauvignon Blanc 6.10 83.5
Semillon 4.57 65.4
Pinot Grigio 3.73 61.4
Riesling 3.16 28.8
Moscato 2.21 52.0

Moscato wines are largely consumed within Australia. The vineyard area under it has remained more or less consistent since 2001 with a little fluctuation on an annual basis.

Stunning Pinot Grigio Wines of Australia


Following video lists six Pinot Grigio Wines from popular labels of Australia such as Robert Oatley, Yellow Tail, De Bortoli that will melt your heart away. These are –

1.Rest Reserve Estate Pinot Grigio

2.Robert Oatley Wild Oats Pinot Grigio

3.Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio

4.Cumulus Block 50 Pinot Grigio

5.De Bortoli La Bossa Pinot Grigio

6.Berton Vineyards Head Over Heels Pinot Grigio

Unmistakably Good Cabernet Merlot Wines

This PPT lists some of the coolest Cabernet Merlot wines of Australia. Are you in a party mood? Check out these wines to transform a dull party into something interesting. These are listed below –

  1. Peter Lehmann Founding Stone Cabernet Merlot
  2. Cathedral Rock Estate Cabernet Merlot
  3. Mcwilliams Inheritance Cabernet Merlot
  4. Wild Wood Cabernet Merlot
  5. Emmetts Crossing Reserve Cabernet Merlot
  6. Salmon Bay Cabernet Merlot
  7. Yallingup Cabernet Merlot

The Need For Correct Identification of Vines

If you were given the task of distinguishing the red grapes from the white ones, nothing can be easier than this. And, perhaps, this would be the last easiest thing to do. If, instead of distinguishing the reds from the whites, you were given the task of sorting the different red or white grape varieties, would it be possible for you to do? Only the experienced viticulturists or people associated with the wine industry would be able to tell what grape varietal it is. It is not possible for the people not linked to wine industry as such and not having exposure to the different wine grapes to tell the difference. One fundamental characteristic of the Australian wine industry in particular is that the most of its varietals were imported from Europe and other parts of the world. This has led to great level of inter-mixing among grape varieties.
By an estimate, there are about 5000-6000 varieties of wine grapes worldwide. It is a fact that only some of these are available for commercial production. This makes identification a very tedious task. At the same time, customers have their own specific preferences for popular wines. If the vines are not identified correctly, the labeling will not be correct and it could mean that the consumers are taken for a ride and they are not given the wine which they expected.
Besides correct identification, there is also a need for correct labeling of the wine bottles. There are laws to ensure that the labeling is done on the basis of genuine information. There have been instances when wine companies had to change a whole lot of labels and also their marketing campaigns on realizing that there has been mistake in correct identification of the wine grapes. From the customer perspective, if this correct identification results in a popular varietal being replaced with a non-popular one, it could mean huge loss to the wine company.
Now, what are the methods which are generally employed to correctly identify the vines? In the earlier times, when technology was not well developed, this was essentially done by carefully noting the physical characteristics of the vines, such as its leaves, etc. These were well documented and the research effort was required to identify it. However, in the modern day, this is possible to have the DNA testing done for this purpose. Here are some of the essential ways in which the vines of a particular grape variety can be identified.

  • Ampelography
  • DNA testing
  • Clonal authenticity

Identifying some popular wine varietals on basis of Ampelography

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cab Sauv

Resembles a ‘mask’. Check out its eyes and mouth.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay

This is a leaf shaped like a shield. Its sawblade-like teeth are rather shallow. The leaf also has an open petiolar sinus. Another distinctive characteristic is that its young vines bear a red node.

Merlot

Merlot

Five prominent lobes, yellow colour, open petiolar sinus and leathery texture make it easily recognizable.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauv Blanc

This is also a five lobed leaf, wavy texture. Petiolar sinus is almost closed. Teeth of leaf are rounded. Three major troughs are also present in the leaf.

Malbec

Malbec

Shield of this leaf i heart-shaped. Shallow pointed teeth. Thick leathery texture and puffed look.