Welcome curious wine lover! Here is our dictionary of grape varieties used to make the wines in our unique collection. You can explore using the A-Z links below or simply scroll through to discover your next favourite variety. Think we missed a delicious grape? Get in touch and let us know!
Bacchus, a white wine grape created by Peter Morio in 1933 by crossing Silvaner x Riesling with Muller-Thurgau, was named after the Roman name of Greek wine god Dionysus. It was released for general cultivation in 1972 and is today one of England's most planted grape varieties. It's easy to manage and has the potential for high must weights, while retaining its acidity, so can make wines with a powerful flavour not too dissimilar from Sauvignon Blanc. Outside of England it remains highly planted across Germany.
Cabernet Franc is an overlooked French variety, known to be the direct parent of Cabernet Sauvignon and an ancestor of Merlot. It is suited to cooler, more continental climates and ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. Its most legendary style is in the wine Cheval Blanc, showcasing Cabernet Franc's ability to age and develop exceptional character. Outside of France, Cabernet Franc is grown in Italy and taken extremely seriously in Hungary, especially in the southern region of Villany where Cabernet Franc thrives.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most well-known and most-planted grape variety in the world. Thanks to Robert Parker and other Bordeaux enthusiasts, plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon have more than doubled since 1990 to nearly 300,000 hectares in 2010. Its parents are Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Today it is called an "international variety" as you will find it planted all over the world. The grape's high ratio of pip to pulp and thick skins contribute high levels of tannin, which adds structure and improves the ageability of red wines.
Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety originating from Bugundy in France that is today the most-planted white wine grape in the world (apart from the Spanish grape Airen, which is planted in La Mancha in Spain in huge quantities). Chardonnay is famed for its versatility, making wines as steely and crisp as Chablis to the honeyed, tropical styles of South Australia and South Africa. It is easy to grow and has a wonderful affinity with oak, making it a top choice to mature or barrel-ferment. Chardonnay is also one of the most important ingredients in sparkling wine, especially Champagne, where it remains one of the noble varieties.
This delicious French grape variety is behind many light to medium bodied red wines. It is famous around the world as the main ingredient in Beaujolais, producing fruity, easy-going wines with flavours of red berry fruits. More mature styles can often be tannic and show similar characteristics to the closely-related Pinot Noir variety.
Gruner Veltliner is Austria's star grape variety. Its wonderfully unique, producing zippy and mineral white wines. Often these wines are characterised by spicy pepper, herbs, floral aromatics, peach and apple. More mature Gruners develop a smoky, plush fruit style with a viscous and honeyed texture. All great Gruner Veltliner balances these flavours with lively acidity and a satisfying finish.
Madeleine Angevine is a French Vitis Vinifera variety popular in the Loire Valley in France. It can also be found in England, Washington State in the USA, across Germany and in central Asia. It was originally a crossing between Madeleine Royale and Précoce de Malingre grapes in 1857. Today the variety is popular because it ripens early, making it an attractive selection for cool climate vineyards. The aromas of the wines are often floral with a fruity body.
Malbec, a French grape variety, is today most famously known for its varietal red wines in Argentina. It has disadvantages in a cooler climate, so Malbec is better suited to warmer areas. Compared with Merlot, Malbec can taste of more "rustic" savoury fruit.
Mavrud is an ancient, indigenous Bulgarian grape variety. It gets its name from the Greek word "mavro" meaning "black", which describes the grape's deep blue-black colour. Mavrud is most widely grown in Bulgaria's Thracian valley, but can also be gound across Eastern Europe and Greece. Mavrud thrives best in warm climates with deep, alluvial soils, and produces wines that are crimson in colour and often tannic. The tannins are balanced by rich blackberry and prune notes, which often leads to Mavrud being described as "juicy" in style.
Merlot is a deep blue grape variety made famous by its use in Bordeaux blends and as varietal wines in the famous sub-regions of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. It loves clay soils and moderate climates, which lead to medium tannin and a juicy character with everything from red berries in cooler years to black plum and chocolate in the warmest years. It is the world's second-most planted grape variety with over 260,000 hectares planted across the world.
Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains
Known simply as "Muscat", this variety is originally of Greek origin but made widely popular by the Muscat wines of Italy (where it is known as Moscato). Today, Muscat is grown all over the world and creates a highly aromatic style of wine.
Tamianka is an indigenous Bulgarian clone of the Muscat variety.
Pinot Auxerrois, a French grape variety sometimes known as Auxerrois Blanc, is popularly grown across Alsace in France, Germany, Luxembourg, and - increasingly - in English vineyards like a'Beckett's. It is a sibling of Chardonnay, so when used in sparkling wines it's not too far from a Blanc de Blancs in style. Pinot Auxerrois favours limestone soils and ripens earlier than Pinot Blanc.
Pinot Noir has a long history of producing some of the finest and most expensive wines in the world (think Champagne and Red Burgundy). It's also a notoriously difficult grape variety to grow, requiring a lot more attention than varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon in the vineyard. The style in red wines can vary from a light to medium bodied still wine, while in sparkling wine it adds character, wild berry fruit and structure to grapes like Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc and Pinot Meunier. Pinot Noir also has a great affinity for oak maturation.
Unusually, Petit Verdot ripens later than Cabernet Sauvignon, which can make it a difficult grape variety to grow. It requires warmer vintages to ripen fully and is often blended into wines, particularly with Cabernet Sauvignon. Wines made with Petit Verdot are full, tannic and rich in colour.
Regent is a dark skinned hybrid variety resistant to most fungal diseases, especially downy mildew, making it a popular red grape for English vineyard plantings. It was created in 1967 by Gerhardt Alleweldt by crossing Diana (Silvaner x Muller-Thurgau) with Chambourcin. It is most widely planted in Germany and Belgium.
Reichensteiner is a white grape variety crossing (Müller-Thurgau and Madeleine Angevine x Calabreser Froehlich) originating from Germany in 1939. It is predominantly planted in Germany, England and New Zealand due to its high sugar content, which makes it ideal for a cool climate. Generally, Reichensteiner is used in blends.
Riesling, hailing from the Rhine in Germany, is often the favourite variety of wine experts owing to its complex palate and ability to age. Most Riesling wines are varietal, rather than blends, and are rarely oak-matured. There are over 48,000 hectares of Riesling planted across the globe and this figure is growing daily. Most commonly, Riesling is found in Germany, Austria, the Alsace in France, Australia and the United States. It can vary in style from cool, crisp apple notes and searing acidity, through the peachy, medium bodied styles of the Alsace, to the aged, mature Spatlese sweet styles of the Mosel Valley, which are honeyed and smoky, sometimes smelling of a petrol-like character.
Seyval Blanc is a French hybrid vine variety that ripens early, making it ideal for cool climates. Today it is mostly grown in England, Canada and the East coast of the United States. It produces wines that are crisp with notes of lemon. Its minerality has been compared to White Burgundy, especially when it goes through malolactic fermentation (where the green apple-like malic acids are converted into milky lactic acids).
Shiraz, widely known as Syrah in the Old World, is one of the most fashionable and oldest grape varieties in the world. It is the world's sixth most planted grape variety (as of 2010) and originates from southeast France. It famously makes up the Hermitage blend, arguably the Rhone's most famous style of wine. It is mostly planted in France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and California. While wines labelled Syrah tend to be more savoury, wines labelled Shiraz are spicier and jammier as they are often grown in warmer climates.
Solaris is a white grape originating from Germany, created in 1975 by Norbert Becker who crossed the variety Merzling with a Zarya Severa x Muscat Ottonel crossing creatively called 'Gm 6493'. Solaris received varietal protection in 2001 and is an EU-approved grape variety for quality wine production. It was bred to be resistant to fungal attacks and is popular in Germany, England, Denmark and Sweden. Solaris produces nutty, banana-like sweet wines or dry, fruity styles of white wine.
Tannat is originally from the Madiran area of France and makes highly tannic, powerful red wines. This has led to it predominantly being blended in French wines. However, in Uruguay where the climate is much warmer, the Tannat variety can make impressive, Malbec-like wines that are ready to drink after just 3-4 years. Tannat, now Uruguay's flagship grape variety, produces rich, full bodied wines with black fruits, spice and velvety tannins. Recently, Tannat was discovered to have 3-4 times more antioxidants than other red wines making it one of the healthiest options to choose.
Xinomavro is a grape variety indigenous to the north of Greece, most notably in Naousa. Its name translates into English as "sour black" after the variety's ability to retain good acidity despite also achieving excellent must weights, leading to full bodied, fruit-led but refreshing red wines. According to Jancis Robinson, the total area planted with Xinomavro vines in Greece is around 18km².
Zinfandel is a black-skinned wine grape originating from Croatia and found to be identical to the Primitivo variety grown in Puglia, Italy. Today it is notably grown in California in the USA, Dalmatia in Croatia, Canelones in Uruguay and Puglia in Italy. In cooler climates Zinfandel expresses raspberry notes, while in warmer climates the wines are alcoholic, deeply coloured and bursting with blackberries and pepper.