Aghiorghitiko, which is Greek for St George, is a real charmer, oozing with fruit and soft tannins, with a dark purple, 'black', colour.
It produces wines with a wide range of styles, from light, fruity, full-flavoured roses to medium-bodied, juicy reds and seriously fine, cask-fermented examples. Only wines made from this variety can be called Nemea, the largest of the Greek appellations. Soils vary from oxide-rich red soils to sandy clay and marl. A notion of Cru is bound to develop in lower-yield, hillside sites such as Koutsi, while other quality sites include Ancient Nemea, Gymno, Ahladia and the cooler-climate, high Nemea valley of Asprokambos. A quantum leap forward in quality has spurred substantial investment from outsiders.
Robust, quality southern Italian red grape variety found mainly on the volcanic slopes of Campania and Basilicata in Italy's south.
Neutral, drought-resistant Spanish variety grown mainly around the La Mancha region with the dubious distinction of being the world's most widely planted vine variety.
In Albana di Romagna, a fairly ordinary white appellation which owed its DOCG upgrade not so much to quality as to the power and influence of those responsible for its administration. On occasions, it rises above the norm.
Albarino (Alvarinho) (white)
High quality variety grown in Galicia's Rias Baixas region, where it produces aromatic, full-bodied, peachy and grapefruity whites which go beautifully with the local Atlantic shellfish, and known as Alvarinho in neighbouring Portugal's Vinho Verde.
Italian red variety with Muscat-like fragrance grown in Italy's south, on Elba and Corsica, and the central Asian republics of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Alicante Bouschet (red)
Like carignan, one of the Midi's productive varieties planted mainly for its deep colour and known as Garnacha Tintorera (Grenache to dye for) in Spain.
Aligote plays the Robin role to Chardonnay's Batman in Burgundy, where it produces crisp, sharp, if neutral dry whites, with a lemony tang of acidity. You can understand why aligote is traditionally used to add a bit of verve and bite to the local creme de cassis to make Kir, or Champagne for Kir Royale. In the Cote Chalonnais in southern Burgundy, ally goaty, as the English like to call it, is the exclusive white grape variety in the Bouzeron appellation. It crops up in eastern Europe and is often used for sparkling wine in the former USSR wine producing countries.
One of the triumvirate of workhorse Midi varieties planted in the last century for mass production plonk, now on its way out.
Aromatic, nutty grape variety native to north-west Italy's Piemonte, where it produces the delicately fruity, herby dry whites of Roero.