Grape schedule

This is the order of tasting that we followed during our 52 grape challenge in 2018. If you are taking on this challenge you can chose to taste in any order you like, the buying guide will help you taste something similar to the wines we wrote about.

Week W/C Grape Tasting Notes Buying guide
1 01-Jan-2018 Tempranillo Tasting Notes Head to the Spanish Red section of the wine shop. Then try to locate a Rioja Crianza or Reserva. If you check the back label try to see that Tempranillo is the top grape listed in the blend. Alternatively a Ribera del Duero Spanish red should be almost 100% of that grape.
2 08-Jan-2018 Viognier Tasting Notes We’re going to taste a Viognier from the South of France. So ideally look for one from that region too. Or another relatively cool climate one from Chile or New Zealand; rather than Australia or California.
3 15-Jan-2018 Shiraz Tasting Notes This week it’s a Barossa Shiraz, the classic Australian version. So try to find a similar Oz version, ideally from that region or McLaren Vale.
4 22-Jan-2018 Riesling Tasting Notes We’re going to try a dry new world Riesling. Ideally find an Australian from Clare or Eden Valley. If not, South Africa or USA Washington Estate would be good alternatives.
5 29-Jan-2018 Primitivo (Zinfandel) Tasting Notes Head to the North American section and find a Californian Zinfandel. Note this is a red wine, don’t get the pink “White Zin”, as you’ll regret it.
6 05-Feb-2018 Grenache (Garnacha) Tasting Notes We’re off to Spain this week, to try an old vine Garnacha, which is what they call Grenache. Head to the Spanish reds and look for one from the Calatayud or Carinena regions.
7 12-Feb-2018 Pinot Gris Tasting Notes Go to the French section of the white wine aisle and keep an eye out for Pinot Gris. I know that we are mostly buying from major supermarkets and this is a lesser found style. If you can’t get that, Oregon Pinot Gris is a good second best. Lastly, head to the New Zealand section.
8 19-Feb-2018 Nero D’Avola Tasting Notes Nero D’Avola is a Sicilian grape, so it’s time to head to the Italian shelf in the wine aisle. Any will do, but the Vittoria region of Sicily is where the best versions come from. Bargain bucket Nero D’Avolas can be lovely, but if you trade up a little to £10 or more then you will get a chance to taste the sophistication this grape can achieve.
9 26-Feb-2018 Picpoul Blanc Tasting Notes This week we’re asking you to seek out the trendy new white of the moment. It comes from the South of France so head to the French white section and look for a tall thin bottle which is particular for this wine. It should stand out and have Picpoul de Pinet clearly labelled on the front.
10 05-Mar-2018 Corvina Tasting Notes Corvina is an Italian red grape but it tends to be labelled by the region of Valpolicella where it comes from; or by a specific style of wine it makes called Amarone. We are going to be trying an Amarone since this is a special style of wine that involves the grapes being left to raisin after being picked. It is so unique it seemed only right to try that. Most large retailers stock Amarone, so head for the Italian red section and look for a wine labelled with that name.
11 12-Mar-2018 Chenin Blanc Tasting Notes Chenin Blanc originates from the Loire in France, but we are opting to taste the new world region most famed for its production – South Africa. We will be looking for a unoaked or lightly oaked South African Chenin which will help us to try the grape in its most unadulturated style. To find that go to the South African white section and check the back label to see if oak is mentioned, typically the label will state if it is used in the winemaking. Ken Forrester is a great producer, widely distributed, and a good option if you spot one.
12 19-Mar-2018 Touriga Nacional Tasting Notes Touriga is the most famous red grape of Portugal. It tends to be used in reds from the Douro region, which also makes port wines. The easiest way to find a wine made with this grape is to look for a red from Portugal made in the Douro valley. Or to look for the Portuguese red section in a retailer and check the back label for the grapes used in the blend. It is unusual to find a 100% Touriga so it’s very likely you’ll have to scour the labels and find a blend. Watirose, M&S and Aldi stock Douro reds. If all else fails a bottle of port would make an interesting option to try this week.
13 26-Mar-2018 Fiano Tasting Notes This pretty little white comes from the Southern Campania region in Italy. It can also be found in Australia, but we are going to try the original. Head to the Italian white section and you can find this wine in lots of the major retailers.
14 02-Apr-2018 Nebbiolo Tasting Notes Nebbiolo is the grape that goes into making the classic Italian wine, Barolo. Nebbiolo is the grape and Barolo is the the region. This week all you need to do is to find a decent Barolo from the Italian red section of a wine shop. This is never a cheap wine but if can be explosive in its flavour and a truly unique experience. Don’t miss this week!
15 09-Apr-2018 Melon de Bourgogne Tasting Notes This week’s grape is more commonly known as Muscadet, which is a region in the Loire area of France. It has fallen out of fashion but is a lovely dry white. We are going to try a specific style called “Muscadet Sur Lie”. We’ll explain what that means later, but for now find the French white section and look for those words on the front label. It should be widely available.
16 16-Apr-2018 Malbec Tasting Notes The grape chose itself this week, as this Tuesday is world Malbec day. This is a grape with a special place in Emma’s heart because she visits Argentina each year to buy wines. So she is going to pick one of her favourite new producers that makes wines in her favourite region called the “Uco Valley”. It’s a special area with some of the best climate conditions. Stroll to the South America/Argentina red section and try to identify a wine with the words Uco Valley and you’ll be tasting something similar to us.
17 23-Apr-2018 Garganega Tasting Notes Back to the old world and we’re rediscovering another forgotten but great white grape. More commonly known as Soave, the region in the Veneto, Italy. It has been overshadowed by Pinot Grigio but to wine lovers is the superior grape with more flavour. Try to find a Soave Classico which means the grapes will come from the better hillside slopes. We will be doing the same.
18 30-Apr-2018 Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notes Friday is Sauvignon Blanc day so we’re going with the theme and will be trying a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. We expect you’ve had your fair share of “Savvy Bs”, and encourage you to trade up a little and try a premium version. We can then all discuss if it is worth paying that little bit more for a Kiwi Sauvignon. Look out for one from the classic Marlborough region, and potentially an Awatere Valley sub region where the coolest climate styles come from.
19 07-May-2018 Gewurztraminer Tasting Notes Gewurztraminer is a classic grape variety of the region Alsace in France. Happily Alsace normally puts this grape variety boldly on the front label so it should be easy to identify. So we will be trying a version from there. Good alternatives regions if you find this hard to find would be Germany, New Zealand or Chile.
20 14-May-2018 Barbera Tasting Notes Barbera is an Italian grape from the North East of Italy in Piedmont where the famous Barolo reds are also made. So head to the Italian red section and look for a wine with this grape name on the label. Typically it comes from two famous villages; Alba or Asti. Either one will work to taste along with us.
21 21-May-2018 Chardonnay Tasting Notes We will be heading straight to the the classic region of Burgundy. Our sub region of choice will be Puligny Montrachet. So head to the French white section and look for any of these, your choice may be dependent on how much you want to spend: Bourgogne Blanc, Macon Villages, Chablis, Pouily Fuisse, Rully, Chassagne Montrachet, Meursault or Puligny Montrachet.
22 28-May-2018 Carignan Tasting Notes Carignan comes from the south of France in the Rhone or Languedoc. It is typically used in blending but you can find some in their pure form. So we’ll be looking for an Old Vine Carignan from the south of France. Typically these are labelled with that name on the front label.
23 04-Jun-2018 Gruner Veltliner Tasting Notes Gruner is a white grape originating from Austria. We’ll be looking for one from there and preferably one from a classic sub region like Wachau or Kamptal.
24 11-Jun-2018 Pinot Noir Tasting Notes We will be trying a classic Red Burgundy made from 100% Pinot Noir this week. To follow suit head to the French red section.  The wines from this area labelled with the village name rather than grape. Look out for the generic name Bourgogne Rouge or famed villages/regions such as Cotes de Nuits or Beaune, Nuits St Georges, Volnay or Gevrey Chambertin.
25 18-Jun-2018 Assyrtiko Tasting Notes Assyrtiko is perhaps the most famous grape of Greece. A white grape that is said to have the elegance of Chablis. Try to find one from its birthplace, the island of Santorini but any Greek white stating Assyrtiko on the front or back label will do.
26 25-Jun-2018 Nerello Mascalese Tasting Notes Nerello Mascalese is the main grape that features in the Etna red wines from Sicily. It is rarely featured alone so if you find a wine labelled Etna Rosso or a Sicilian Red with that grape featured on the back label that will work just as well.
27 02-Jul-2018 Semillon Tasting Notes Semillon is a grape that was often blended with Sauvignon to make Bordeaux whites. It then found fame as a single grape in Australia, specifically Hunter Valley where is makes elegant low alcohol whites that age well. So try to find an Australian version to get a pure taste of the grape.
28 09-Jul-2018 Carmenere Tasting Notes Carmenere is to Chile what Malbec is to Argentina. It originated in Bordeaux, France but seems to have found a better home in Chile where it fully ripens. It is best to try an example that is a little above entry price because cheaper versions can be a bit light and green. The valley in Chile where it tends to show at its best is Colchuagua; so we will be searching out that style.
29 16-Jul-2018 Torrontes Tasting Notes Torrontes is a white grape that is uniquely found in Argentina. The best versions come from the Northern area of Salta or Catamarca. But if you can’t find one of those then any Argentinian Torrontes will work well.
30 23-Jul-2018 Cortese Tasting Notes Cortese is in fact that grape that makes the wine called Gavi; the wine name coming from the village in Piedmont, Italy rather than the grape. To try the very best version of Cortese look for wines labelled “Gavi di Gavi” which is a smaller sub region where the best vineyard sites are situated.
31 30-Jul-2018 Albariño Tasting Notes Albarino is the white grape coming from the cooler coastal spot of Galicia in Spain; and also known as Alvarino in Portugal. We will be seeking out a version from its classic sub region in that area called Rias Biaxas.
32 06-Aug-2018 Mourvedre Tasting Notes Mourvedre (aka Monastrell in Spain) is a grape variety most commonly used as a small part of a blend. We will be seeking out a Bandol from the South of France where this grape is used as the dominant grape in their styles. Any Monastrell from Spain would equally work well.
33 13-Aug-2018 Falanghina Tasting Notes Falanghina is a white grape coming from Campania in the South of Italy. It isn’t really produced anywhere else. So just head to the Italian white section of your local store and see if you can find it.
34 20-Aug-2018 Cinsault Tasting Notes Cinsault is a red grape from France, it was often used in blends to bulk out a wine because it is high yielding. We are going to seek out a 100% Cinsault from old vines, typical countries that do this are France, South Africa or Chile. These are quite rare so we’d recommend buying any one you can find.
35 27-Aug-2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting Notes Cabernet Sauvignon is the world famous red grape that makes wines with great structure and ageability. We are going to seek one out from the classic region of Bordeaux. Look for a “left bank” Bordeaux wine which can be identified by names like Medoc, Margaux, St Julien or Pauillac, these have the most Cabernet in the blend.
36 03-Sep-2018 Verdejo Tasting Notes Verdejo is a lesser known white grape from Spain. We will be seeking out one from the region Reuda where this grape has become increasingly popular in recent years.
37 10-Sep-2018 Grillo Tasting Notes Grillo is a Sicilian grape that is becoming increasingly popular. It has the richness & fragrance of Chardonnay with a slightly spicy character. So check out the Italian section of the local shop and look for Grillo on the label.
38 17-Sep-2018 Negroamaro Tasting Notes Negroamaro is a black grape from the south of Italy, especially the region Puglia and Salento. We will be looking for a 100% grape blend from these areas. Some large supermarkets do stock this grape but you may need to look in specialist stores.
39 24-Sep-2018 Arneis Tasting Notes Arneis is a grape coming from the Piedmont area of North West Italy. It can be difficult to find so you may need to search it out on a specialist shop. The grape name is normally called out on the front label to help you identify it.
40 01-Oct-2018 Marsanne Tasting Notes Marsanne is a grape that heralds from the Rhone region of France. In the Northern Rhone it takes centre stage party blended with Roussanne; look out for St Joseph or Hermitage whites for this style, be warned they are pricey. For this reason we will seek out a producer in Australia known for this this grape “Tahbilk” they make a 100% Marsanne that will give us the best chance to really taste its character.
41 08-Oct-2018 Pinotage Tasting Notes Pinotage is the red grape that has come to define South Africa. Its parents are a crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault but it really tastes nothing like either of those grapes. The search this week should be quite easy since most big shops stock a Pinotage if they have South African wines.
42 15-Oct-2018 Furmint Tasting Notes Furmint is a Hungarian white grape that is most typically used as one of the grapes to make their famous sweet wine Tokaji. It may be difficult to find a dry Furmint so if you have trouble then any Tokaji would be a nice experience as the first sweet wine for our year of grape adventures.
43 22-Oct-2018 Tannat Tasting Notes Tannat is a kindred spirits of Malbec given it heralds from France (in Madiran region) but has travelled to South American and found its true home in Uruguay. If you can find a version from France or Urguauy it will be good enough. However we are going to try a Urugyuan version to taste it in its newest form.
44 29-Oct-2018 Vermentino Tasting Notes Vermentino is a lovely vibrant grape with a herbal floral aroma and often a rich fruit driven palate. It is most commonly found in the South France, Languedoc or coastal Tuscany. But its best homeland maybe Sardinia where the cool coastal breezes add a fresh lift to the wine. We will be seeking out one from there.
45 05-Nov-2018 Merlot Tasting Notes Poor Merlot got a bad reputation after the iconic wine film “Sideways” put it down. It is a soft fleshy grape which means it can make simple wines without massive structure. But you can’t forget that some of the most expensive wines in the world in Bordeaux (St Emlion/Pomerol) are made mostly from this grape. So this week we are heading right to its heartland of Bordeaux to seek out one of those and see if we can put it to the test.
46 12-Nov-2018 Bacchus Tasting Notes Bacchus is fast becoming the grape that England is famed for when it comes to still wines. It is a hardy grape when it comes to putting up with the English less than warm climate. Expect a grape that is often called “Sauvignon on steroids” it is so powerful. Any English Bacchus you can find will do.
47 19-Nov-2018 Gamay Tasting Notes Gamay is the grape that makes the more famous wine Beaujolais which comes from the Burgundy region of France. We are trying it on Beaujolais Nouveau week. That is the first week that the latest vintage of wine is legally allowed to be sold. The wine only finished fermenting a few weeks before. Gamay perfectly suits that because it is fruity and upfront making it a pleasure to drink young. We will be seeking out a “Nouveau” but may try one of the posher villages like Fleurie or Morgon that are also made from this grape and have a bit more age.
48 26-Nov-2018 Godello Tasting Notes Godello is a lesser known Spanish white grape coming from North West Spain. It is also known as Gouveio in Portugal. If you are a fan of delicately fruity but soft tasting whites this could be one searching out. It is often a grape that appeals to lovers of unoaked Chardonnay. You may need to look in a specialist wine shop to track this one down.
49 03-Dec-2018 Cabernet Franc Tasting Notes Cabernet Franc is a grape that is either used as a minor part in blends like in Bordeaux or as a grape alone. On its own it is most known in the Loire region, with wines like Saumur or Chinon. But it is also starting to travel well and there are now many countries in the world testing out Cabernet France with some great results such as Argentina or California. We will be staying true to its original homeland and looking for a Chinon.
50 10-Dec-2018 Pinot Blanc Tasting Notes Pinot Blanc or Pinot Bianco are the same grape made in France or Italy. A grape that is often confused with Pinot Grigio and does share some flavour characters in its crisp orchard fruit profile. However it can deliver wines with a bit more interest and charm, expect more peachy fruit and a touch more ripeness in flavour. We will be seeking one out from Alsace as a region that tends to produce some of the most characterful styles.
51 17-Dec-2018 Xinomavro Tasting Notes Xinomavro is the king of Greek red grapes. It is a giant of a grape variety in the fact it has thick skins and double pips. That means it has a lot of tannin and structure making it a bold red. Many people compare it to Nebbiolo for its bright fruit aroma along with distinct smoky characters, plus its ability to age well. The best region is Naoussa in the North of Greece but if you can find any Xinomavro that will do.
52 24-Dec-2018 Sangiovese Tasting Notes Sangiovese is the grape behind Tuscan wines, especially Chianti. It has a light colour and flavour but a distinct tea leaf textured tannin which gives it a unique character. The best Sangiovese tends to be in the Chianti Classico hillside areas. We will be looking for one form a great producer to end our 52 weeks on a high note.

4 thoughts to “Grape schedule”

  1. Right, chop chop, let’s get stuck into Tempranillo then. Smooth, a bit earthy, and if you’re in a supermarket beginning with A then there’s a pallet of the stuff with a yellow label in the way when you go in.
    Or you can go for summat a bit more impressive – I got La Rioja Alta 904 for Christmas.

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