LANG VINEYARDS ABOUT THE GRAPES
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone, as in the Loire’s Chinon. In addition to being used in blends and produced as a varietal in Canada and the United States, it is made into ice wine in those regions.
Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates from Canada’s Okanagan Valley to Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. For most of the 20th century, it was the world’s most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s.
The classic profile of Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be full-bodied wines with high tannins and noticeable acidity that contributes to the wine’s aging potential. In cooler climates, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to produce wines with blackcurrant notes that can be accompanied by green bell pepper notes, mint and cedar which will all become more pronounced as the wine ages.
Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. It originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand.
The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France to New World wines with oak, and tropical fruit flavors.
In cool climates, Chardonnay tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavors of green plum, apple and pear. In warmer locations the flavors become more citrus, peach and melon, while in very warm locations more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango are apparent. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavors with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes.
The story starts with the ancient Traminer variety, a green-skinned grape that takes its name from the village of Tramin, located in South Tyrol, the German-speaking province in northern Italy. Traminer is recorded from ca. 1000 until the 16th century. It was spread down the Rhine to Alsace by way of the Palatinate, where Gewürz (meaning spice) was added to its name – this was likely when one of the mutations happened.
Gewürztraminer is a variety with a pink to red skin colour, which makes it a “white wine grape” as opposed to the blue to black-skinned varieties commonly referred to as “red wine grapes”. The variety has high natural sugar and the wines are usually off-dry with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees. Dry Gewürztraminers may also have aromas of roses, passion fruit and floral notes.
Maréchal Foch (pronounced “mar-esh-shall-fosh”), is a hybrid French red wine grape variety, and was developed in Alsace, France, by viticulturist Eugene Kuhlmann in the 1920’s. Some believe it to be a Goldriesling cross, but its true pedigree is uncertain. It ripens early, is cold-hardy, and resistant to fungal diseases. The quality of wine produced by Marechal Foch vines is very dependent upon vine age. Highly extracted, and carefully crafted wines made from older plantings, such as Lang Vineyards 50-year old vines, have been very successful as niche cult wines with a dedicated following.
Did You Know? Our prized signature red wine, Marechal Foch, is named in honour of Marshal Ferdinand Foch GCB, OM, DSO (1851 – 1929) who was a highly decorated French soldier, military theorist, and an Allied General during the First World War. After the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Foch declared, “This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.” His words proved prophetic: the Second World War started twenty years and sixty-five days later. Many streets and places are named after him including Mount Foch in Alberta.
Merlot is a dark blue-coloured wine grape variety, that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of merle, the French name for the blackbird, probably a reference to the color of the grape. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its early ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannins.
Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, and it is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world’s most planted grape varieties. As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) globally, with an increasing trend. This puts Merlot just behind Cabernet Sauvignon’s 262,000 hectares (650,000 acres).
The Muscat variety of grapes of the species Vitis vinifera is widely grown for wine, raisins and table grapes. Their color ranges from white to near black. Muscat almost always has a pronounced sweet floral aroma. Muscat grapes are grown around the world. The breadth and number of varieties of Muscat suggest that it is perhaps the oldest domesticated grape variety, and there are theories that most families within the Vitis vinifera grape variety are descended from the Muscat variety.
Among the most notable members of the Muscat family is Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains which is the main grape variety used in the production of the Italian sparkling wine Asti made in the Piedmont region. Young, unaged and unfortified examples of Muscat blanc tend to exhibit the characteristic Muscat “grapey” aroma as well as citrus, rose and peach notes. Fortified and aged examples (particularly those that have been barrel aged), tend to be very dark in color due to oxidation with aroma notes of coffee, fruit cake, raisins and toffee.
Pinot Auxerrois is a white grape variety with a perplexing number of synonyms. True Auxerrois, often called Pinot Auxerrois or Auxerrois Blanc, is grown fairly extensively in Alsace and appears in more wines than most may realize. In Cahors, Auxerrois is a synonym for Malbec. Auxerrois Gris is, confusingly, a synonym for Pinot Gris.
Auxerrois is most at home in Alsace, particularly in the north, where the cooler climate helps this low-acid variety achieve good levels of freshness.
Auxerrois is used in the sparkling wines of Cremant d’Alsace, where it is typically blended with Pinot Blanc. The relationship between Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc is interesting as the former is allowed to be anonymously used in varietal Pinot Blanc wines.
As a wine, Auxerrois is more full-bodied and less crisp than Pinot Blanc, but the two varieties complement each other’s weaknesses. If yields are restricted, Auxerrois can produce quality wine with plenty of lime and citrus flavors, often with a rich, musky aroma profile.
Pinot Blanc is a white wine grape. It is a point genetic mutation of Pinot noir. Pinot noir is genetically unstable and will occasionally experience a point mutation in which a vine bears all black fruit except for one cane which produced white fruit.
In Alsace, Italy and Hungary, the wine produced from this grape is a full-bodied dry white wine while in Germany and Austria they can be either dry or sweet.
A bottle of Pinot blanc (selected late harvest) from Međimurje County, northern Croatia. Pinot Blanc offers fruity aromas, often of apple, citrus fruit, and floral characteristics. Wines that are varietally pure, although more difficult to find, provide stronger floral characteristics, stone fruits and a headier minerality. Regardless of their exact composition, most wines under the label ‘Pinot Blanc’ are rather high in acidity and are vinified in tank, though more prestigious examples are fermented in large, 100% used oak barrels.
Pinot Gris is a white wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. Thought to be a mutant clone of the Pinot noir grape, it normally has a grayish-blue fruit, accounting for its name (gris meaning “grey” in French) but the grape can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance. The word pinot, which comes from the word meaning “pine cone” in French, could have been given to it because the grapes grow in small pine cone-shaped clusters.
The wines produced from this grape also vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink, and it is one of the more popular grapes for orange wine. The clone of Pinot Gris grown in Italy is known as Pinot Grigio.
Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name is derived from the French words for pine and black; the pine alluding to the grape variety having tightly clustered, pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit. The grape’s tendency to produce tightly packed clusters makes it susceptible to several viticultural hazards involving rot that require diligent canopy management.
Pinot noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. Pinot noir is also a primary variety used in sparkling wine production in Champagne and other wine regions. It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but can be a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine.
Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure and are seldom oaked. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world’s 20th most grown variety with an increasing trend. In terms of importance for quality wines, it is usually included in the “top three” white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc. Riesling is a variety which is highly “terroir-expressive”, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine’s place of origin.
Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape most likely gets its name from the French words sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”) due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France. It is possibly a descendent of Savagnin. Sauvignon blanc is planted in many of the world’s wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac. Some New World Sauvignon blancs, particularly from California, may also be called “Fume Blanc”.
Depending on the climate, the flavor can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. In cooler climates, the grape has a tendency to produce wines with noticeable acidity and “green flavors” of grass, green bell peppers and nettles with some tropical fruit, such as passion fruit, and floral, such as elderflower, notes. In warmer climates, it can develop more tropical fruit notes.
The style and flavor profile of wines made from Syrah is influenced by the climate where the grapes are grown with moderate climates (such as the northern Rhone Valley) tending to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium-plus to high levels of tannins and flavors of blackberry, mint and black pepper notes. In hot climates Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of liquorice, anise and earthy leather. In many regions the acidity and tannin levels of Syrah allows the wines produced from the grape to have favorable aging potential.
Syrah is used as a varietal as well as a blend. In 2004 it was estimated to be the world’s 7th most grown grape.
Viognier is a white wine grape variety. It is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhone Valley. Outside of the Rhone, Viognier can also be found in most of the world’s wine regions. The variety is sometimes co-fermented with the red wine grape Syrah where it can contribute to the color and bouquet of the wine.
Like Chardonnay, Viognier has the potential to produce full-bodied wines with a lush, soft character. In contrast to Chardonnay, the Viognier varietal has more natural aromatics that include notes of peach, pears, violets and minerality. However, these aromatic notes can be easily destroyed by too much exposure to oxygen which makes barrel fermentation a winemaking technique that requires a high level of skill on the part of any winemaker working with this variety. The potential quality of Viognier is also highly dependent on viticultural practices and climate with the grape requiring a long, warm growing season in order to fully ripen.
Zweigelt is a red wine grape variety developed in 1922, at the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterneuburg, Austria, by Fritz Zweigelt. It was a crossing of St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. It is now the most widely-grown red grape variety in Austria, as well as having some presence in Canada’s vineyards.
In order to make a quality Rosé wine, the skins are left on the pressed grape juice for some 30 hours, giving it the characteristic pink colour as well as some of the lighter flavours.