What's the most widely planted grape?


It may have seemed like wine lists and shelves have been dominated by the same sort of grape varieties but there hasn’t been a definitive list of what’s planted where, until now.

A recent study by the University of Adelaide has found that Cabernet Sauvignon is now the most populous grape planted across the globe followed by Merlot and Airen (a low density white grape used for Spanish brandy).

From humble beginnings as just one of the parts of ‘Clairette’, the earliest style of Bordeaux wine first shipped by English traders and where “Claret” is derived from, Cabernet Sauvignon has adapted to virtually every wine-growing climate across the world. Unlike other varietals that have made a splash in more than one country, Cabernet Sauvignon has proven itself hardy enough to thrive no matter what the soil or climate.


If the very thought of globalisation and homogeny makes you yearn for the frontier days gone by, fear not, don’t start tilling the allotment or hunting the deer around Balmoral just yet. The terroir where the vines are grown is just as important as the grape variety and that’s before you even take into consideration the winemaker. For all the recent press about a global wine shortage there’s still plenty of excellent wine out there from grape varieties that you may not be familiar with.


Sure, South America is nothing new but the styles of wine being produced in Uruguay is very classic indeed. The burgeoning scene is currently revolving around new styles of Tannat, a grape that like Malbec, was associated with very austere wines in its homeland of France.


You may not be familiar with it now, but get set to hear all things Brazil in the build up to the World Cup. Did we mention they also make some excellent wine? This is a country that won’t be gunning for Chile’s reputation as cheap and cheerful. Look out for Portuguese varieties like Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional for the best examples.


You may be familiar with the dessert wines but not all their grapes go into the delicious nectar. Dry Furmint can be incredibly complex and delicate proving itself to go with food or simply by itself.

9th January 2014

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Drink Aware - know the facts