Everyone knows that wine is made from grapes, but rarer are the people who know perfectly the different varieties of grapes, and their impact on wine. Let's then meet the grape varieties, and more particularly the grapes used to make red wine .
Red wines, white wines, rosé wines: why so many nuances?
If we assume that all wines are made from grapes, how can we explain such diversity in color? This is explained by several parameters.
- The variety of grape , or grape variety: each grape variety has its own color of grape skin, which necessarily influences the color of the wine. For example, Grenache Noir and Pinot Noir offer less colorful red wines than Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah;
- The terroir , and more particularly the climate: as a general rule, the sunnier the vineyard, the darker the grapes, whether for a white grape variety or for a red grape variety;
- The winemaking technique : the longer the maceration time, and therefore the contact time between the grape juice and the grape skins, the more colored the wine will be;
- Wine aging : during aging in vats or barrels, the wine continues to color. Rapid bottling then produces clearer wines;
- The quality of the wine : generally, high yield wines quickly lose their pigments, while a good wine retains its chromatic intensity for many years.
How is red wine made?
To better understand which grapes are used to make red wine , it is interesting to know the winemaking technique for this type of wine. After the harvest, there are several stages:
- Destemming and crushing , where the stems are removed (optional) and the grape berries are crushed to extract the juice. By bursting the stems and skin of the grape, we allow the tannins to be released and expressed intensely;
- Skin maceration , where the grape must and grape juice are placed in tanks and lightly heated. During this process, alcoholic fermentation also takes place, where the sugars in the wine are transformed into alcohol thanks to the yeasts. Finally, all the solid materials, called marc, rise to the surface. It is during maceration that the coloring pigments contained in the epidermis of the grape color the grape juice, to give a more or less intense red colored liquid;
- Pouring and pressing are two techniques for recovering the juice. Either we collect it from the bottom of the tank (drainage), or we press the juice and the marc to recover the juice loaded with tannins;
- Maturing , where the red wine is placed in a vat or oak barrel for a few weeks, or even longer, to let the new aromas express themselves before bottling.
Making red wine: black grapes or white grapes?
It seems logical, after understanding the technique of making red wine, to use red-colored grapes to produce red wines . In fact, you absolutely need a grape with red skin, loaded with coloring pigments and tannins, to give all the visual and taste characteristics of red wines. But it is sometimes possible to use a small portion of white grapes to make red wine .
On the other hand, it is impossible to obtain red wine from white grape varieties alone. In the same way that it is impossible to obtain white wines with only red grapes.
The grapes used to make Château de Berne wines
At the Berne estate, oenologist Alexis Cornu chooses to use black grapes from grape varieties perfectly adapted to the Mediterranean climate. Our red wines are then made from 6 main red grape varieties.
- Syrah : a sun-loving red grape, Syrah expresses aromas of red fruits and black fruits, as well as violet and spices;
- Grenache noir : offering a very dark wine color , Grenache also gives aromas of blackberry, cherry, blackcurrant and white pepper;
- Cinsault : appreciated for its freshness and finesse, cinsault gives red wines, as well as rosé wines, fruity aromas;
- Cabernet-Sauvignon : powerful and sweet at the same time, this very tannic black grape variety gives the wines aromas of green pepper, tobacco and blackcurrant;
- Carignan : offering generous, robust and colorful wines, Carignan reveals notes of small red and black fruits (raspberry, cherry, prune);
- Mourvèdre : red wines made from Mourvèdre are full-bodied and tannic, with aromas of blackberry and violet, which evolve with age towards spicier notes of pepper and cinnamon:
- Tibouren : this Provençal grape variety, grown only in the Var, produces elegant and delicate wines. Although it is mainly used for rosé wines, it also makes it possible to produce blended red wines that are rich in bouquet and fine on the palate.
The other main grape varieties of red wines
Of course, Château de Berne makes its wines from grape varieties that particularly flourish under the Provence sun. But winemakers from French wine estates also use other varieties of black grapes , the main ones being Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Gamay, Merlot and Sangiovese.
The color of the wines is not the result of chance, but rather the result of a scrupulous choice by the winemaker. You now know all the grape varieties used to make red wine . Time for tasting to discover the particularities of each one.