Wine Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Viognier


Hope you have enjoyed the series in the wine gurukul so far. In my last we discussed two popular white grape varieties Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc and let us now look at a three more popular ones.

Sauvignon Blanc 


A very juicy and aromatic grape variety with refreshing acidity. Elderflower, Bell pepper, gooseberry, grass are the notes attributed to a Sauvignon Blanc. They are meant for youthful consumption and in most cases are unoaked. ‘Cat’s Pee like’ is one of the smells associated with a Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon. Couldn’t get more appetizing, could it? If you are still curious, go take a whiff!!

The Sancerre and Pouilly Fume regions from the Loire valley in France are the best known for the grape. Bordeaux whites also use sauvignon but blend it with Semillion which has a heavier body. This is the blend used for the famous sweet wines from Sauternes. Marlborough, New Zealand the new world’s answer to the Loire makes bold, fruit driven wines. California,America, most of it  is too hot for a refreshing Sauvignon and hence they have a distinctive style of oaked full bodied wine called the “Fume blanc”. Chile and Australia are also making remarkable Sauvignon wines.

India has been producing a lot of Sauvignon Blancs too; almost every producer in the country does it. The Indian one’s if I were to generalize start off with a very vegetal ‘green Chilli’ nose and gets fruitier by the minute as it breathes in the glass. Irrespective of the origin, have this wine  chilled!

the typical Riesling bottles!
the typical Riesling bottles!



Riesling is versatile and can make bone dry to lusciously sweet wines. Riesling is naturally “super” high in acidity and can make wine which age for decades. It is a very aromatic grape variety reminiscent of flowers, honey,nuts and citrus fruits. And yes it can smell of benzene compounds; something like petrol when it ages. Don’t miss the ‘wine snobs’ announcing the petrol aroma when they hear of Riesling, irrespective of its age!

A variety of German origin, it is grown abundantly in Alsace in France, Germany and also Austria.  Clare Valley and Eden Valley close to Adelaide in Australia have established themselves as Riesling destinations and  and so has the Hunter valley a region north of Sydney in Australia for producing wines for extreme longevity. Other cooler wine regions such in America, South Africa and New Zealand also have pockets with Riesling. Sula India also does a medium-sweet style, I have not tasted it in some time now!

While buying French and especially German Rieslings do look for cues like Trocken (dry), Halbtrocken( medium sweet), Demi-sec ( medium sweet) on the bottle to ensure you pick the wine with the sweetness you want to. And lastly chill your Riesling for a zingy fruit blast!



Soon to launch Charosa!
Soon to launch Charosa!

One of the most floral white grape varieties, Viognier makes wines with intense perfume. It is very difficult to grow and requires slow ripening to mature fully. It makes low to medium bodied wines with medium acidity and meant for youthful consumption.

Rhone Valley, France is best known for its region called Coindreu which makes complex wines with Viognier. Also the iconic Rhone red; Cote Rotie could use it in the blend with Syrah and this style of a “Syrah Viognier” blend is commonly found it Australia. The Viognier gives a lot of floral notes to the blend. The problem with Viognier sometime could be its keeping quality, notably for the Indian weather these wines lose their freshness very easily. Australia, North America and Chile and experimenting with it and have been doing some great examples for some time now.

India has been doing the grape for some time now. Sula followed by Four Seasons have been the known brands and the new kid on the block is the one from Charosa winery which is slated to launch in the coming month. I tasted it and must tell you it is very promising on the nose!

We will discuss more of whites in my next before moving on to the reds!



What do you think of this article?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: