Aromatic and flavour characteristics of grapes


Connoisseurs always delight when they smell a varietal wine that exudes aromas particular to that variety. This may vary pending on terroir, and is some cases, also on the altitude of the vineyard.

Below, please find aroma and flavour characteristics of popular varieties.

Torrontes (originally from Rioja, Spain) but grown usefully in Salta, Argentina.
Lemon and floral aromas, light and refreshing.

Gruner Veltliner (aka GV) lively, zesty, spicy, fresh, peppery, citrusy , and refreshing. (Half of the parentage is Traminer)

Chenin Blanc lemony, pear, apple, minerally, mushrooms, round, acid-driven.

Sauvignon blanc fresh cut grass, hay, citrus, gooseberries, lemon, passion fruit. All of these flavours and aromas depend on where the grapes were grown. In Marlborough, New Zealand sauvignon blanc is highly aromatic, smells of passion fruit, guava, and occasionally of gooseberries.
In the Loire Valley, gooseberries, minerally, lemony flavours dominate,

Chardonnay buttery, vanilla, creamy, peaches, pears, apples, green apples, nutty
California chardonnay wines are generally high in alcohol, creamy, and almost full-bodied. In Burgundy the wines smell of appels/pears, occasionally nutty, minerally in Chablis.

Riesling bright acidity, citrus, peaches, minerally.
In Ontario, riesling smells of Granny Smith apples, faintly of petrol, racy and vibrant.
In Germany, rieslings are fragrant, refined, long lived, minerally, light and aromatic.

Pinot Gris subtle fresh fruit aromas, racy acidity, deeply flavoured (Alsatian style), subtle, apples, pears.
Red grapes

Carmenere widely planted in Chile. Minty, plumy, blackberry, smoke, peppery.

Nebbiolo (the best grow in Piedmont, some in Lombardy).
Smells of cherries, cured meat, tar, roses, truffles, tannins. Long lives “juicy”.

Tempranillo (Spain’s most famous and possibly best red grape variety.
Red fruit aromas, leathery, spicy, plums, toasted nuts.

Bonarda (originally from Piedmont). Now successfully grown in Argentian. red berry aromas, smooth texture, chocolate, space juicy, racy acidity.

Pinotage (a cross of pinot noir and cinsault created by professor Izak Perold in South Africa) light, plumy, red berry aromas, smoky, smoked meat, raspberries

Pinto Noir cherries, forest floor, raspberry, strawberry, beetroot, floral, elegant, complex, silky.
In Otago, New Zealand pinot noir wines turn out dark red, bold, smell of cherries and display racy acidity.
In Burgundy; the wines are complex, light, clean “juicy”, balanced (in good years), may be floral, minrally, mushroom smells.

Malbec (originally from Cahor, France) spicy, high acidity, firm tannins, savoury, “juicy”, violets, plums, cherries.
In Argentina, malbec grown on different altitudes are blended for effect. Some of the highest vineyards in the world are in Mendoza
Cabernet sauvignon aromas of cassis, herbs, black berries, leather, structure, long lived.
In Bordeaux, generally blended with cabernet franc and merlot.

Syrah (aka shiraz in Australia) (a cross of dureza and mondeuse blanche) robust, blackberries, plums, spices, rich, intense, black pepper, smoke, leather.
Barossa Valley’s shiraz wines display intense ripe red fruit aromas, are full bodied, and generally high in alcohol 14 – 15.5 per cent ABV.

Primitivo (aka Zinfandel in California) Originally from Croatia – black fruits, full body, mulberries, violets, anise, ripe tannins.

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