Red wine Variety

Wine Varieties

Most Common Varieties in WA

Red Varieties

Cabernet franc

Generally used as a blending variety with cabernet sauvignon in Australia but makes great wines in St Emilion in France. Often highly perfumed with red berry and currant characters. Light bodied with some herbaceous overtones.
Best region: Mount Barker, Margaret River.

Cabernet sauvignon

A powerful variety that makes arguably the world’s greatest red wines. Characters include mint, leaf, eucalyptus, blackcurrant and black olive with other nuances of cigar box, cedar, chocolate, tobacco, coffee and mocha. Best in cooler areas and generally blended with other Bordeaux varieties.
Best regions: Margaret River, Mount Barker, Frankland River.

Grenache

Likes it tough and grows well in warmer areas. More common in South Australia and generally a blending option. Has full spectrum of plum, spice, rose petal and red berry characters. Doesn’t need a lot of new oak.
Best regions: Swan Valley, Geographe.

Malbec

Most underrated variety. Highly perfumed in good years with red berry and minty dark fruit characters. Has an elegant palate structure and is a superb blending option with cabernet.
Best region: Frankland River, Margaret River, Swan Valley.

Merlot

There are some rather nice merlots being grown in WA that are being used as straight varietals but in the main this variety is used as a blending option for cabernet. Its fruit fleshy midpalate opulence fills the cabernet rather nicely.
Best regions: Margaret River, Blackwood Valley, Manjimup/ Pemberton.

Mourvedre

Often called mataro. Not a lot planted in WA and generally used as a blending option with grenache and shiraz. Lovely red fruit aromas with some earthy perfumes. Can exhibit characters of spice, cherry and berry flavours and moderate tannins.
Best regions: Margaret River, Geographe.

Nebbiolo

The great grape of northern Italy, which has had trouble capturing that character. Tends to be overly tannic. Characters are red berry, chocolate, savoury and dusty earthiness.
Best regions: Margaret River.

Petit verdot

Petit verdot is mostly used as a blending variety and in most cases is not stated on the label. It ripens quite late and generally is used to add tannin, colour and flavour to the largely cabernet sauvignon blends. There is an increasing number of straight petit verdots. Begins with aromas of dark fruit and pencil shavings although more lifted ethereal violet and cherry plum aromas develop with age.
Best regions: Margaret River, Great Southern.

Pinot noir

A light- to medium-bodied style of wine that can be used in both sparkling and table wines. It grows best in cooler climates. The primary fruit characters are strawberry, red cherry, raspberry, stewed plums, herbs, spice and beetroot, with secondary fruit characters of damp earth, barnyard, game, forest floor and mushrooms.
Best regions: Manjimup, Pemberton, Denmark, Porongurups.

Sangiovese

Known as providing the spine for many Italian reds and mostly the wines of Chianti. Has a supple texture with characters of spice, raspberry, cherry and anise flavours.
Best regions: Geographe, Margaret River.

Shiraz

A terrific all-purpose variety that grows well just about everywhere. Cooler climates are more peppery and warmer climes more earthy and savoury. The primary characters are spice, cinnamon, raspberry, dark cherry, mulberry, blackberry, black pepper, plum and chocolate. Secondary characters are mocha, coffee, prune, meaty, savoury and leather. Often blended with the white variety viognier
Best regions: Frankland River in particular but does well in all WA regions.

Tempranillo

This is the famous variety of Spain. Has characters of plums, tobacco and cassis, along with very dark colour and hefty dry tannins. Has a dry savoury character on the finish. Great as a food wine with just a little plumpness in the middle palate.
Best regions: Geographe.

Zinfandel

Still only small amounts planted in WA. Generally highly alcoholic wines with characters of chocolate, dark earthy ripe red berry with distinct cherry characters. Firm and tannic and generally needs time.
Best regions: Peel, Margaret River, Geographe.

RAY'S WINE GUIDE 2017