While there are many wine regions within
France, the best known are Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, Loire,
Champagne and the Rhone. In the red wines of Burgundy, the
two grape varietals used are Pinot Noir and Gamay, the latter
of which is used in making Beaujoulais. Chardonnay is the
varietal for white Burgundy. Bordeaux produces many more varietals,
of which the overwhelming variety for red wine is Cabernet
Sauvignon. In the communes of St Emillon and Pomerol, Merlot
happens to be the major grape. Other varietals include, Cabernet
Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Bordeaux’s whites include
Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. While Alsace and the Loire produce
some reds, they are really known for their white wines. In
Alsace, Riesling predominates, but there is also a large quantity
of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris (formerly called Tokay), Muscat,
and Pinot Blanc, while in the Loire it is Muscadet, Chenin
Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Champagne
has three varietals that can be used in the wines of the region,
Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Finally the Rhone,
made up of Hermitage, Condrieu, Cornas, St Joseph, Cote Rotie
and Crozes Hermitage in the north, where the main varietal
is Syrah and in the south, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas and
Vacqueyras, where a huge variety of grapes are grown, among
the best known, Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier, Grenache, Mourvedre,
Carignane and Cinsault.
Australia’s best known grape is
Syrah, called Shiraz. Also produced in large quantities are
Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noir and a wealth of Chardonnays.
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While it might be an overstatement to
say that Italy is one vast vineyard, there can be no argument
that wine is grown all over Italy. The best known regions are
Tuscany and Piedmont. Tuscany is home to the “Super Tuscans,”
made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and home also to Brunello
di Montalcino, which is made from Sangiovese Grosso. Piedmont
is home to Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Dolcetto and Barbera.
The Nebbiolo grape rules supreme here.
Like most wine growing regions, Spain produces hundreds of grape
varietals and such a list is impractical here. The major grapes
grown are Tempranillo, Granacha (red and white,) Malvasia, Monstrell,
Albarino, Moscatel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rioja is Spain’s
oldest known wine region, but other areas of the country now
share the limelight, the best known being Ribera del Duero,
Penedas, and Priorat.
Both countries are best known for their
white wines, made predominately from Riesling, Gewurztraminer,
Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Scheurebe, Gruner Veltliner and
Kerner. The wines range from dry Kabinet’s to Spatlese,
Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and the ultra heights
Washington is best know for its Cabernet
Sauvignon and Merlot, but there are a number of new wine makers
who are producing some superb Syrahs. Oregon is predominately
known for its Pinot Noir. California produces wines from just
about every grape variety. Its Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots
lead the state into the wine world on the red side, and while
perhaps they still are the best known among California’s
varietals, the state also produces world class, Pinot Noir,
Syrah, Petite Syrah and Zinfandel. Also produced on a world
class level are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Home to red wines, it is best known for
producing Port in the Duero region and Madeira on the island
of Madeira. Port is made from Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa,
Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo,) Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cao. Madeira
is the only type of wine said to benefit from heat. In fact
the Portuguese used to fill the holds of their ships with
Madeira and use it as ballast as they sailed around the world.
Many of the grapes that make up the worlds existing stocks
of old Madeira are now extinct. The best known of the grapes
of Madeira are Bual (Boal), Malvasia (Malmsey,) Terrantez,
Bastardo, Sercial and Verdelho.
Besides growing the predictable Cabernet
Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, winemakers
have planted Tempranillo, Syrah, Sangiovese, Grenache, Tannat,
Malbec, Carmenere, Mourvedre, Pinot Noir and even such far-flung
varieties as Sicily's Nero d'Avola and Portugal's Touriga Francesa.