Top 5 Favourite Grape Varieties

The popularity of these top 5 lists has been astounding.   My top 5 least favourite beers continues to be my most read post to date, followed at a close second with my top 5 favourite beers.  So in keeping up with this popular trend I thought I would post another top 5 list, this time with a wine focus.  I present to you my top 5 favourite grape varieties.

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5. Melon de Bourgogne – white wine 
A bit of an unknown grape variety this one is new to my list as well.  Melon happens to be the only grape variety permitted in the Muscadet AOC in France.  Muscadet (not to be confused with Muscat) is a region on the very western end of the Loire Valley in France in the Nantes region.  In simple terms every time you see a wine labelled Muscadet it is made with Melon, though the grape variety will rarely appear on the bottle.  If you haven’t yet tried Muscadet get to the LCBO now.  It is a simple grape by nature but the wine making techniques of the Loire help in the production of some very complex Muscadet wines.  Classic Muscadet will be light bodied, almost always dry, very refreshing, and loaded with acidity.  These characteristics make it the classic pairing for Oysters and that in itself is good enough for me.

4. Sangiovese – red wine
Here is another one that may look a bit unknown when you first read it.  But I assure you that you are familiar with Sangiovese.  It is the classic grape variety of central Italy, most notably Tuscany.  What gets it on this list is it’s the dominant grape variety in Chianti wines, including the beautiful Chianti Classico or Chianti Riserva.  In fact for a wine to be labelled Chianti is must include at least 80% Sangiovese, and some wines use 100% Sangiovese.  I had to include an Italian wine on here and when I think of my favourites Chianti jumps out at me.  But the title of this post is favourite grapes, so folks I present to you Sangiovese.

3. Chardonnay – white wine 
Here is one that may look more familiar to everyone.  That’s probably because it’s the second most widely planted white grape variety in the world (total area) and is planted in more regions around the world than anything else – yes including Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s popularity and versatility to various climates are the reason why.  Now as those who have read this blog know popularity does not guide my decisions, so let’s put that aside.  Why does Chardonnay make this list? Why is it my favourite white wine grape? Simple.  It is used in some of the greatest white wines in the world.  It is the key grape in all classic white Burgundies, it is a vital component in all Champagnes, and is now universally recognized and the best white wine being produced in Ontario.  Enough said.

2. Pinot Noir – red wine 
I guess I am proving I am a Burgundy fan because Pinot Noir is the main grape variety in red Burgundies just as Chardonnay is the key grape in white Burgundies as I mentioned above.  But outside of the classic Burgundies there are great Pinot Noirs being produced all over the world.  Oregon, the South Island of New Zealand, California, and Chile are all producing amazing Pinots these days.  Also in similar fashion to Burgundy where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are king, Ontario follows suit and along with the amazing cool climate Chards we are gaining recognition for outstanding Pinots.  Finally the other beautiful thing about Pinot Noir is its ability to pair well with a variety of food.  It’s not as big as Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz so while some can hold up to red meats, it can also be paired with ham, turkey, and chicken, making it a go to choice on all major holidays.

1. Malbec – red wine 
So without further adieu I give you my #1 favourite grape variety.  Ladies and gentleman the lovely and talented Malbec.  In my opinion this is without a doubt the best wine you can buy.  Sure I might be a bit bias because after you have visited Mendoza Argentina, the Malbec capital of the world, you fall in love with these wines.  Malbec creates big wines which are rich with fruit, plus they are full enough to hold up to all red meats and game which are they main meat dishes in Argentina.  In fact I would argue that Malbec is the absolute best wine to pair with steak.  It’s got the tannin and body to hold up.  Just like Italian wines should be your best bet with Italian food, Malbec and steak are a match made in heaven as steak happens to be one if the main meat dishes in Argentina.  Plus there is another key element of Malbec which simply can’t be said of many other wines.  Malbec provides exceptional value in this otherwise overpriced marketplace.  The LCBO has many fantastic Malbec wines for under $20.  That is a huge factor.  So at the end of the day, for me, Malbec can do no wrong and for that it comes in at #1.

– Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman 


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