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Top 10 grape varieties to know

Tasting courses, literary reviews, television reports, everything is done to tell us about wine and our French grape varieties (grapes used to make wine). But there are hundreds of them on the territory, so what are the main grape varieties to know? Pinot noir, merlot, malbec or grenache ... What are their differences, how to recognize them? Easy, here are the details of 10 grape varieties to know in order to be unaware of the subject!

First thered wines:

Pinot Noir

The most widely planted red grape variety in the world, Pinot Noiris not always easy for the winemaker. But those who know how to handle it and whisper to its vines will get a more than marvellous nectar from it. The Pinot Noir is the flagship grape variety and is the master of the Burgundy region. Fragile, itis used in the composition of some of our Loire and Alsace wines, butalso in theproduction of the French wine gold, Champagne.

It is characterized by cherry aromas and variations, with the keeping of notes, such as prune, game,and leather and undergrowth, which reveal themselves to give elegant and supple wines, with the final touch of acidity (on the tip of the tongue).If the Pinot is well worked, it will give red wines of great quality with different aspects. It is known for its power, finesse, intensity and aromatic complexity. And once you have experienced it, you can appreciate itscolour, which is often not very intense but full of promise.


When we say Merlot, we think ofBordeaux. Indeed, this is its native soil, but this robust and lively grape variety has travelled a long way to be planted in the South-East of France and in our beautiful Languedocvineyard.

Merlot is an ideal grape variety for blending, it adapts well and above all it smoothes out the sometimes rough edges of certain grape varieties in their youth. In Bordeaux, it is the companion of Cabernet, an early variety that develops easily and allows the "rapid" opening of our Grand Crus and Crus Bourgeois.It will show itself in structured wines, perfumed with notes of red fruit: strawberry, raspberry, redcurrant, sometimes just picked and other times with more "jammy" tastes. With time, not everything goes away, the fruit remains but aromas of prune, violet, leather or fur will stand out with elegance and grace.


Malbec, côt, auxerrois, this grape has many names... Powerful and fruity, it has tastes of plum, tobacco or liquorice. Originally from the South-West, itis often associated with a strong, tannic red wine. Very colourful, they are rich, powerful and spicy wines. A beautiful freshness in the mouth that allows them not to disgust during tasting. It is the wine of the third half.

Le Trousseau

We could have told you about many other grape varieties but we love the Jura and itswines so we'll tell you about one of our Jura basics... the Trousseau. Tannic, coloured and long-keeping, the Trousseau gives spicy, peppery and green pepper aromas. It is often combined with Poulsard to produce supple wines with a longer shelf life. Trousseau is not found everywhere, only in the Jura appellations of Arbois, Arbois-Pupillin, Côtesde Jura, Crémant du Jura and Macvin du Jura.

The Gamay

Oh gamay my beautiful red gamay with white juice... Not always easy to be the gamay. We love it in the Loire, we loveit everywhere in the world but why don't we love the Gamay of Beaujolais? The Gamay isa great grape, full of complexity, of good quality, it remains fragile and requires attention. Gamay has fruity notes: raspberry, wild strawberry, blackberry or black cherry. But not only! It also has peppery and floral notes, such as peony, and can be used to make wines with little colour or tannin, and a slightly acidic and fresh structure. However, it is not given a long ageing and will be a perfect companion for aperitifs.

Then the white wines:


Originally from Burgundy, Chardonnayis one of the most planted, appreciated and drunk grape varieties in the world... This is not surprising when you know that Chardonnay is a bit like the Arturo Brachetti of grapes to be vinified.It transforms itself according to the soils, the barrels and the climates, to give always surprising wines. Multifaceted, it can give straight wines, round, acid or not. It can be made into dry, sparkling and even sweet wines for some. It is said to be livelier and more acidic in the north and rounder and softer in the south.

Its aromas are varied, complex and frank, ranging from dried fruit to hazelnut, grilled almond or exotic fruit. It also has tastes of butter, fern, lime blossom, pear, walnut and acacia flower, to name but a few.


Before conquering the world, Sauvignonhad found in France territories very conducive to its cultivation: Loire, South West, Centre France. A less shy variety than one might think, it does not adapt to all soils.

However, it is a highly diversified grape variety. It can be found in very aromaticdry white wines, lively and balanced in its youth, but also in wines that are a little more unctuous, always mixing aroma and nervousness. Combined with Botrytis (the noble rot) or in late harvest, it will pleasantly perfect sweet white wines.

How to recognize it ? Sauvignon has floral aromas such as boxwood, narcissus and jasmine, as well as delicate citrus flavours such as lemon and grapefruit. With certain limestone soils, this charming grape variety will also develop a nice fresh mineral side in the mouth.


Grenache blanc is one of our grape varieties imported into France during the Middle Ages. Today, it is distinguished in the southern regions of France by its aromas of fennel, dill, melon and white nectarine. It is a grape variety that is not made for ageing wines, but which has an extraordinary potential to take sugar. However, it will be found in dry white wine as a great natural sweet wine. Warm, full-bodied, long in the mouth, it can sometimes lack acidity.


Native to the banks of the Loire, Cheninis a magnificent grape variety for lovers of dry white wine. It develops beautiful mineral expressions of chalk and flint. But it will also show its sweetness thanks to its aromas of pear, quince or acacia honey. Spicy notes will enhance the finish. Its acidity allows Chenin to produce lively wines in general. It is malleable and can be made into dry, sparkling and sweet white wines.


Once again, we could have told you about many other better known grape varieties, but with full knowledge of the facts and totally biased, we have chosen to tell you about this grape originating from the Austrian Tyrol and very well known in Franche-Comté: the Savagnin.A grape variety with developed aromas of walnut, hazelnut, flowers, honey or green apple, it is emblematic of the Jura. Savagnin is used to make dry white wine, yellow wine,straw wine, but also Crémant du Jura and liqueur such as Macvin. Characteristic, it is strong in its resistance to disease as well as in its complexity, power and ageing.

Maureen Philibert(for Les Grappes)

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