Monday, February 27, 2012

The ABC’s Of Wine Varietals: G

As you start drinking and learning about wine, it's good to, at some point, to start paying attention to the varietal and its general characteristics. This will help when you taste a winery's Cabernet Sauvignon and compare it to, say, its Zinfandel. Knowing the characteristic of a varietal will also help note differences between the grapes taste and body when compared across wineries, regions, or from a different country.

When looking for wine info, I often turn to the Wine Spectator, both for its broad reporting and its attention to basics. They have some introductory information on Varietal Characteristics, here are ones starting with the letter G:


"GAMAY (Red) [ga-MAY] - Beaujolais makes its famous, fruity reds exclusively from one of the many Gamays available, the Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. Low in alcohol and relatively high in acidity, the wines are meant to be drunk soon after bottling; the ultimate example of this is Beaujolais Nouveau, whipped onto shelves everywhere almost overnight. It is also grown in the Loire, but makes no remarkable wines. The Swiss grow it widely, for blending with Pinot Noir; they often chaptalize the wines.

California, meanwhile, grows a variety called Gamay Beaujolais, a high-yield clone of Pinot Noir that makes undistinguished wines in most places where it's grown. In the United States the grape is used primarily for blending, and acreage is declining, as those serious about Pinot Noir are using superior clones and planting in cooler areas.

GEWÜRZTRAMINER (White) [geh-VERTS-trah-mee-ner] - Gewürztraminer can yield magnificent wines, as is best demonstrated in Alsace, France, where it is made in a variety of styles from dry to off-dry to sweet. The grape needs a cool climate that allows it to get ripe. It's a temperamental grape to grow and vinify, as its potent spiciness can be overbearing when unchecked. At its best, it produces a floral and refreshing wine with crisp acidity that pairs well with spicy dishes. When left for late harvest, it's uncommonly rich and complex, a tremendous dessert wine.

It is also popular in eastern Europe, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest.

GRENACHE (Red) [greh-NAHSH] - Drought- and heat-resistant, it yields a fruity, spicy, medium-bodied wine with supple tannins. The second most widely planted grape in the world, Grenache is widespread in the southern Rhône. It is blended to produce Châteauneuf-du-Pape (although there are some pure varietals) and used on its own for the rosés of Tavel and Lirac; it is also used in France's sweet Banyuls wine. Important in Spain, where it's known as Garnacha Tinta, it is especially noteworthy in Rioja and Priorato. Grenache used to be popular in Australia, but has now been surpassed by Syrah; a few Barossa Valley producers are making wines similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In California it's a workhorse blending grape, though occasionally an old vineyard is found and its grapes made into a varietal wine, which at its best can be good. It may make a comeback as enthusiasts of Rhône style seek cooler areas and an appropriate blending grape.

Also, Grenache Blanc, known in Spain as Garnacha Blanca, which is bottled in the Southern Rhône. It's used for blending in France's Rousillon and the Languedoc, and in various Spanish whites, including Rioja.

GRÜNER VELTLINER (White) [GROO-ner VELT-linner] - The most widely planted grape in Austria, it can be found to a lesser extent in some other parts of eastern Europe. It achieves its qualitative pinnacle in the Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal regions along the Danube River west of Vienna. Grüner, as it's called for short, shows distinct white pepper, tobacco, lentil and citrus flavors and aromas, along with high acidity, making it an excellent partner for food. Grüner is singularly unique in its flavor profile, and though it rarely has the finesse and breeding of the best Austrian Rieslings (though it can come close when grown on granite soils), it is similar in body and texture."

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1 comment:

  1. Gewürztraminer - is that what they've been asking for?:)

    ReplyDelete