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Grape Varieties


Glossary terms

Palomino (white)

Palomino is the sherry grape grown in the vineyards of Jerez in southern Spain, where it performs best in Jerez' white, chalk-like albariza soils. It is low in acidity and fruit sugar which makes it ideal for the production of sherry.

Although not particularly notable as a table wine, once it has undergone the sherry process of fortification and ageing in oak casks, it takes on distinctive characters as it matures. There is a fair amount grown in California and Australia.

Parelleda (white)

Appley Catalan variety mostly used in the production of cava, but also used to make a refreshing dry white in the Penedès region.

 

Pedro Ximenez (white)

The counterpart to Palomino in the Jerez region of Spain, PX, as it's nicknamed, produces dark, sweet, raisiny fortified wines and is used as a blender to sweeten Oloroso sherry.

 

Periquita (red)

This is widely grown in southern Portugal, aka Castelão Francês, where it makes fruity reds sometimes with a gamey edge to them.

 

Petit and Gros Manseng (white)

Vine varieties from Jurançon in south-western France making assertive, grapefruity dry whites and, in the case of the superior petit manseng, luscious sweet whites following raisining (passerillage) on the vine.

  

Petit Verdot (red)

This high quality Bordeaux variety deserves to be better known as well as more popular but it doesn't always get ripe, especially in marginal climates.

It is thick-skinned and produces richly concentrated, intense red wines which are usually added in small proportions to Médoc reds. It's grown in small quantities in California's Napa Valley and is currently viewed in parts of Australia, notably the Riverland, as a variety with the potential to produce premium reds.

Petite Sirah (red)

Not related, despite the name, to the more noble Syrah, this is grown mainly in California and South America, where it produces sturdy, robust, faintly spicy reds. No longer thought to be the same grape as France's (and Australia's) Durif.

 

Picpoul (white)

Another ancient Languedoc white variety, aka Piquepoul, which in the lively dry whites of Picpoul de Pinet, goes down a treat with the locally farmed oysters and mussels.

 

Pinot Blanc (white)

Pinot Blanc is most commonly associated with the full-bodied dry white wines of Alsace which can be neutral, but can also be quite apple and pear-like in character and act as a very good accompaniment to fish and shellfish.

It is also grown in Burgundy, although not many producers admit to having it. Perhaps because of its neutral character, it is also extensively used in Alsace as a base for sparkling Crémant d'Alsace. Outside France, it is popular in Italy as Pinot Bianco, Austria as Weissburgunder and grown in parts of Eastern Europe as well as Oregon and California, where Chalone make a speciality of it.

What does it taste like?

  • clean and refreshing
  • grapey and smoky


  • PINOT BLANC can be bland and neutral when it's cropped heavily, albeit clean and refreshing, but it can also be nutty and rich, almost like CHARDONNAY, with a delicately grapey or smoky character and good acidity, making it an ideal partner for seafood.

Pinot Gris/Grigio (white)

Pinot Gris, aka Tokay Pinot Gris in Alsace, is a slightly spicier and more expressive version of its stablemate, Pinot Blanc, and actually a mutation of Pinot Noir.

It is one of the chief dry white varieties in Alsace, but also produces some deliciously sweet, ageworthy, late-harvest styles. It is the same grape as northern Italy's Pinot Grigio, Germany's Grauburgunder or Ruländer and Hungary's Szürkebarát and is becoming moderately fashionable in New Zealand.

What does it taste like?

  • smoky and spicy
  • occasionally oily


  • PINOT GRIS / pinot grigio, often lightly copper-coloured, can be a sort of halfway house between the more neutral-flavoured PINOT BLANC and the overtly spicy and fragrant GEWURZTRAMINER with a smokiness, delicate spice and an occasionally oily character.


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