Red varieties

Cabernet SauvignonProbably everybody heard about this variety. The most popular, although not the most spread (more wine is produced from merlot). It is the trademark itself. As the “one-variety” wine, it grows in warmer climates and in colder it is mixed with merlot to soften its sharpness. It happens to be the background hero of many wines, where it is present in small percentage. However, the popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon does not result only from its taste values, but also from practical ones. This variety is easy in production and it is difficult to spoil it. The magic word, if it comes to this grape, is “Blackcurrant”. It is this bouquet which is mostly felt, very often to such a degree that it disturbs the reception of other varieties present in the wine.
As regards the cultivation of this variety, it is easier to name those countries and regions in which it does not occur. Out of the wine-cultivating countries I can think of these are: Switzerland, some regions of Italy (Marchia, Puglia), the Czech Republic, Georgia and Greece. As you can see they are not wine powers (Germany produces a lot of wine, but white) and there are not many of them. Pinot NoirIt is the opposition to Cabernet. If anybody has seen the film called “Sideways”, s/he could get convinced how different both varieties are. The first is brutal, straightforward and beating like the incompetent actor. The other is melancholic, delicate, undecided, mellow, willing to contemplate, just like the teacher appearing in the film. An enormous disadvantage of this variety is the difficulty it causes in the production process. That is why it is extremely difficult to attain the desired effect. This, in consequence, often results in the high price of Pinot Noir. We will find neither strong fruit aromas, nor tannin flavours there. If the wine is made in warm climate, it does not have sharpness almost at all and its bouquet resembles jam. In cold climate the scents of mint, pepper and sometimes even tomato are present.
The best known Pinot Noirs naturally come from Burgundy, France. The variety is also planted in Champagne, where sparkling wine is made from it, Loire Valley and Alsace (France). Outside France the variety is made in Italy (Pinot Negro), Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Romania and, more and more often and successfully, in Hungary. The New World winemakers try to imitate Burgundy’s Pinot Noir, but, unfortunately, they do not succeed. However, we can come across the attempts of the Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and the Chilean. The basic attribute of this variety is its bouquet which by its complexity definitely comes before the taste. For a good Burgundy the connoisseurs are able to pay considerable sums of money (on auctions up to several thousand euro). Syrah/ShirazThe variety itself, like many others planted in the whole world, originates of course from France, more specifically from the Rhone Valley. The distinction between the names is not only the linguistic problem, it also carries some information (naturally except the origin, which is evident). Shiraz is usually more loud and spicy, while Syrah is somehow more subdued, gentle and elegant. In France the variety is always called Syrah, but in the New World it is mainly called Shiraz, although sometimes, if the producer wants to raise the quality of the wine and to emphasize it is the high quality product, s/he decides to use the traditional name. What is interesting, the variety has another name used in Sicily – Sirae.  Merlot
Merlot is the kind of a grape variety which ripens more quickly than Cabernet and, what is more, gives wine less acid and tannin. The bouquet is berry-creamy and earns after the contact with a barrel, which gives it a buttery-creamy character. The most perfect Merlots (from 50% to 66% in a blend) can be found in St. Emilion (France, Bordeaux), where the wines are incredibly delicate, simply mellow. Also in Pomerol (France, Bordeaux), Merlot makes up a large part of the coupage, giving stronger wine, with more intense fruit heart. Apart from France, where this grape is commonly planted, Merlot is present also in Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria. We will find it also in principle in all New World countries, including Uruguay and New Zealand.