Glossary of Varietals
ArneisA traditional grape variety from Piedmont, whose recorded history dates back to the 15th century. After having faded into utter obscurity, Arneis experienced a real renaissance toward the end of the 20th century. Today, Arneis is considered a classic with Vitello Tonnato or Risotti in its native Italy and enjoys considerable popularity beyond the borders of the country as well. Its flavour profile is characterised by notes of green apples or pears, as well as almonds and herbs. Very rarely cultivated in South America.
BonardaNative to northern Italy and widely grown in Argentina, this varietal has much more potential than was once assumed. Bonarda wines boast great complexity while simultaneously being remarkably drinkable and easy to enjoy in comparison with other red wines. which tned to be more dense and concentrated. Bonarda typically has a cassis aroma and vegetal notes. Argentina´s gift to Mediterranean cuisine.
Native to Bordeaux, this lesser-known member of the Cabernet family is somewhat earlier to ripen and is less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc stands out in particular through its cool fruit aromas, redolent of wild berries, and its unmistakeable green pepper fragrance. This varietal has a promising future and is definitely one of Argentina´s “grapes to watch”!
Quite possibly the most famous and popular varietal worldwide. Approximately three decades ago this grape ventured beyond its native Bordeaux and proceeded to conquer the world. Due to its fruited flavour profile when young it tends to be quite well-received by newcomers. However, many wines first become truly interesting with age, as anyone who has been lucky enough to try a mature Cabernet Sauvignon can confirm. Old Cabernet Reservas from South America can offer a phenomenal tasting experience for a relatively low price.
Though it is often only used for blending in Bordeaux, the Carménère is Chile´s flagship grape. Nothing is more emblematic of Chilean viticulture than the Carménère. Until the 1990s, however, this varietal was widely mistaken for Merlot and marketed accordingly. A classic Chilean Carménère has aromas of Cassis and freshly cut grass, and is a vibrant, full-bodied tasting experience.
One of the most widely cultivated varietals worldwide, and often over-wooded. However, smaller businesses are now bringing very interesting and wonderfully balanced Chardonnays to the market, which are lively and not lacking in freshness.
Chenin BlancThis Loire varietal is enjoying increasing popularity in Argentina and Chile. One of its particular assets is versatility: it is suitable for the production of fresh new wines, sparkling wines, and sweet wines. With restricted yields and the appropriate maturation, this varietal has superb storage potential. Its array of aromas can range from tropical fruit, to peach and pear. The nose is often nutty and full of herbal notes such as mint.
Argentina´s superstar, no contest! If a chunk of meat is on the coals or simmering in the oven, Malbec is always one of the first choices. Though native to Cahors, its worldwide success is thanks to the work of Argentinian winemakers, who were the first to squeeze great wines from this grape. Plum, blackberry, tobacco and roasted aromas are typical for malbec´s profile.
A native of the Rhône valley also known as “Hermitage”. Although its cultivation does not occupy a large area, it is present in innumerable blended wines. Its mild acidity and fruitiness make it a very valued as a blending element. Marsanne`s storage potential is low to average. Despite its full-bodied profile, it is very drinkable and is not difficult to enjoy. Special characteristics include its floral fragrance and strong stone fruit aromas.
A cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, bred in the south of France with the intention of combining the finesse of the former with the heat resistance of the latter. This varietal has long been cultivated predominantly in Lebanon; however, in recent years it has found a home in Uruguay as well. Marselan produces floral and well-balanced wines with notable structure provided by tannins. The varietal is most commonly used as a component of blended wines.
MerlotMerlot is virtually synonymous for elegance in wine. This Bordeaux native is now cultivated across the globe – unfortunately, however, not always with convincing results. However, in our opinion, Uruguay is, alongside Bordeaux and Ticino, a top-tier producer of Merlot. Redolent of plums and often with a “stony” character, Uruguayan Merlots have wonderful depth.
This varietal – ´the black grape of Avolá´– gets its name from the small town Avola located in the province of Syracuse, in Sicily. Some experts think that its origins lie in Calabria; however, it is hardly cultivated there. Nero d’Avola from Sicily has become a very popular and trendy wine in Germany, Switzerland, and other countries in the last few decades. Its smoothness and fruity character seem to appeal to a wide range of wine drinkers. Nero d’Avola is of little importance in South American viticulture, but is cultivated from time to time by winemakers with southern Italian roots.
Introduced to Chile by Spanish missionaries from Gran Canaria at the end of the 17th century, this varietal was originally used to make Communion wine. The País grape would dominate the landscape of Chilean landscape for the centuries that followed, before slowly having to make way for international vines in the 20th century. País represents light-footedness and depth in wine. Typical for its profile is delicately fragrant, with aromas of red berry and a mentholated spice. It is believed to be a descendent of the Monica varietal, which is widely cultivated in Sardinia today.
A native of Bordeaux, where it is mainly used in blends to add fragrance and colour. Because it does not always reach full maturity in Bordeaux, wines made exclusively from this grape or even blends with higher percentages are basically non-existent. However, the South American climate allows this grape to fully ripen, and, accordingly, allows for the creation of pure Petit Verdot wines. Petit Verdot captivates with its cool blueberry aromas as well as its earthy, smoky and leathery notes.
A Burgundy varietal, practically synonymous with "cool climate" wine. In South America it is often grown at high altitudes or in places with cool night breezes. Pinots from South America can be an excellent choice for those who are not particularly "Pinot driven" (yet) and work superbly as an introduction to the wonderful world of this varietal, which is one of the most complex of all. While Pinots in the Burgundy style have profiles typified by raspberry and pepper notes, South American representatives tend more toward cherry notes and have a more velvety character. The Rio de la Plata region produces some strikingly vegetal Pinots.
Ruby CabernetRuby Cabernet was bred in California in the 1930s by crossing Carignan with Cabernet Sauvignon, with the intention of combining the heat resistance of Carignan with the finesse of the Cabernet so that Bordeaux-like wines could also be produced in hotter climates. It became clear, however, that Ruby Cabernet also did well in cooler regions. Though mainly cultivated in California today, it also has a presence in South America, generally as part of a blended wine.
This grape, famous for its use in Chianti and beloved throughout the world, is still a rarity in South America. As a fresh young wine, Sangiovese is heavenly with tomato sauces. Its delicate yet still pronounced acidity works in wonderful harmony with Pasta and Pizza. Uruguay´s Sangiovese impresses with its elegance and its magical smoothness.
Sauvignon Blanc wines have become increasingly inspiring and “emancipated” in recent years. The road toward producing stand-alone, unique Sauvignons has largely been paved. The representatives in our collection have already reached this goal.
The queen of all Rhône varietals, known for its peppery fragrance and spicy mouthfeel. It is not yet widely cultivated in Uruguay; however, in Argentina – and especially in San Juan – Syrahs are a very reliable choice and essentially guarantee above-average quality at the very least.
A tannin-rich grape variety with exceptional ageing potential. The undisputed warhorse of Uruguayan viticulture. Though it is native to the southwest of France, it would likely only be an obscure blending wine without Uruguay's influence. According to scientific studies, Tannat has more health benefits than any other varietal. It also ages spectacularly: often "tarry" and harsh when young, they become smooth and accessible with age. Its flavour profile encompasses elements ranging from plum and wild berry aromas to vegetal and floral notes. A fantastic accompaniment to red meat.
A Spanish classic. In South America it is mainly processed into fruity and simple young wines. In Spain, American wood is often used too generously in the production process, which can lethally smother the Tempranillo. With less wood, its silky character can be appreciated. Typical for its flavour profile are notes of cherry and plum, sometimes accompanied by hints of tomato or liquorice.
Argentina`s own autochthonous white grape, a cross between Criolla Chica and Muscat d'Alexandrie. Torrontés produces highly aromatic, floral white wines. A brilliant companion to Asian dishes and wonderful as an aperitif.
ViognierNative to the Rhône Valley, Viognier has recently been attracting increasing attention across the world. Its floral fragrance and rich, fruited bouquet on the palate make it ideal for assemblages. In South America, young Chardonnays are often blended with some Viognier, which brightens the wine and adds freshness, In Uruguay, Voignier is produced as a reserve wine in its own right, and is also a popular choice for blending with particularly muscle-packed tannats which require “taming.”