French Grape Varieties Guide

French Grape Varieties

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White

Chardonnay- the traditional white grape of Burgundy (such as Chablis), Chardonnay is grown all over France and is probably the most famous white varietal in the world today.

Chenin blanc- used frequently in the Loire Valley (where it is also called Pineau de la Loire). Used to make both delicious dry wines as well as sweet dessert wines.

Clairette- white grape found commonly in the Languedoc and Rhône.

Grenache Blanc- makes meaty whites (usually included as part of a blend) in Languedoc and the Rhône.

Mauzac- minor grape used in blending, in southwest France.

Muscadelle- the 3rd grape in the Sauternes blend, also makes sweet wines in Ste Croix-du-Mont.

Petit Manseng- lesser grape used in Languedoc white blends.

Pinot Auxerrois- used in blends in the Alsace Region.

Pinot Blanc- lightish grape used in Alsace.

Pinot Gris- cousin to Pinot Blanc, this grape is also used widely in Alsace

Riesling- grown in Alsace, used to make many single varietal wines.

Sauvignon Blanc- used to make wonderful Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Menetou-Salon in the Loire. Also widely used in Bordeaux (Graves, Entre- Deux-Mers) and throughout the south.

Sauvignon Gris- minor grape used in Sauternes.

Semillon- the great Sauternes grape, used all over Bordeaux and southwest France in other sweetie appellations like Monbazillac and Soussignac.

Ugni Blanc- a base grape for many white wines throughout the south and a main ingredient in cognac.

Viognier- wildly aromatic grape used in the south and the main grape used in the wonderful wines of Condrieu.


Red

Alicante Bouschet –light, slightly acidic grape used in Corsica and Provence for the reds.

Cabernet Franc- the main grape in Loire reds, and secondary grape in Bordeaux

Cabernet Sauvignon- the king of French grapes, and principal grape used in the famed Medoc, or left bank of Bordeaux. Grown all over the country.

Carignan- of Spanish heritage, also used widely in Sardinia. In France it is a blender grape found frequently in the Languedoc on the other side of the Spanish border.

Cinsault- the grape has soft, fruity flavors and makes both rosé and red wines in Provence, Languedoc, and Rhône

Duras- minor grape cultivated in Gaillac.

Gamay- the main grape used in Beaujolais, noted for its strawberry flavors. Also used in some Loire reds, and in Gaillac and Fronton near Toulouse.

Grenache (Noir)- superlative grape used all over the south from Languedoc to the great wines of the

Malbec- the grape that launched Argentina to fame is actually of French descent and it is grown especially in southwest France. Called “Auxerrois” in Cahors and “Cot” in the Loire.

Merille- minor blender grape used in appellations like Fronton, Buzet & Côtes du Marmandais.

Merlot- most famously used to make fine right bank wines in Bordeaux (Saint-Emilion and Pomerol), Merlot is grown all over France.

Mourvedre- a delightful Southwestern varietal.

Negrette- this lesser known grape is use in Gaillac and Fronton.

Picpoul Noir- minor grape in the Languedoc and Rhône.

Pinot Meunier- the black grape in the Champagne blend.

Pinot Noir- the most mythical wines using Pinot Noir would be in Burgundy’s Côte d'Or

Syrah- the fabulously spicy grape also known as “Shiraz” outside of France. Grown all over France, but most famously in Côte-Rôtie.

Tannat- more widely used in Uruguay than France, it is nevertheless an important southwest varietal with structure and backbone, often used in blends.


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