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This is the fourth and final post of my list of markers for classic grapes and wines.  The last post included markers for Cabernet family grapes, Pinot Noir and Gamay. This final post will include markers for Rhône grapes and more.  As I’ve previously written, the intent of posting my list of markers is
for the reader/student to use them as a starting point for putting their own
list together. I hope this helps in some way. A santé!

VI. Grenache

Southern Rhône Grenache Blend

Sight: medium to deep ruby.
Nose: ripe, intense baked red and black fruits, wild savory herb (garrigue), black and white pepper, mushroom, stony earth, and large wood (not barrique). Some wines display pronounced game, dried meat and soy/jerky qualities.
Palate: full-bodied and dry to bone dry.  
Structure: acidity: medium to medium-plus; alcohol: medium-plus to high, tannin: medium-plus to high. 
 
ID Keys: the best Southern Rhône blends like Châteauneuf-du-Papes and Gigondas combine ripe-baked red and black fruits, high alcohol, pepper, garrigue, stony earth, and considerable tannins.  Stylistically, lower-end wines such as simple Côte du Rhone are light and fruity sometimes made with carbonic maceration; wines from better appellations such as above can be powerful, tannic and very age worthy.

Australian Old Vines Grenache

Sight: deep opaque ruby red.
Nose: ripe, powerful, intense red and black fruits with black pepper-spice, pronounced mint-eucalyptus, a touch of earthiness, vanilla and oak spice.  
Palate: full-bodied, powerful and dry. 
Structure: alcohol: medium-plus to high; acidity: medium to medium-plus; tannin: medium-plus to high.  
 
ID Keys: a full-throttled red with very ripe, jammy fruit, pepper-spice, and a pronounced minty quality with high alcohol and lots of tannin.  
 
VII. Syrah

Northern Rhône

Sight: medium to deep ruby with purple highlights.
Nose: black and red fruits, white and black pepper, floral, sour green plum, bacon/smoked meat, Mediterranean herbs, tobacco ash, stone-mineral, and oak.
Palate: medium to full-bodied and dry to bone dry.
Structure: alcohol: medium to medium-plus; acidity: medium to medium-plus; tannin: medium-plus to high.  
 
ID Keys: look for the combination of floral, red and black fruits, pepper, greengage (sour green plum), tobacco ash, smoky-meats, and stony minerality.    
 
Australian Shiraz – Barossa

Sight: opaque ruby purple.
Nose: ripe, concentrated black fruits, red and dried fruits with black and white pepper, sweet spices, leather, earth, and wood; American oak is traditionally used lending the wines pronounced vanillin, coconut, baking spices and sawdust.  But it’s also important to note that many producers now use French oak or a combination of French and American oak.  Mint and eucalyptus notes are also very common.
Palate: full bodied and dry.  
Structure: alcohol: medium-plus to high; acidity: medium to medium-plus; tannin: medium to medium-plus and infrequently high. 
 
ID Keys: typical Barossa Shiraz is rich, ripe and powerful and can sometimes be confused with Zinfandel.  Shiraz usually displays more depth of color than Zin; look for the emphasis of black fruits, pepper, mint, leather and the use of American Oak   

VIII. Mourvèdre

France: Bandol

Sight: deep ruby.
Nose: ripe black and red fruits, pronounced savory herbs, pepper-spice, reduced/earth-farmyard, and wood. 
Palate: full-bodied and bone dry to dry. 
Structure: alcohol: medium-plus to high; acidity: medium-plus to medium-high; tannin: medium-plus to high.  
 
ID Keys: Mourvèdre-based wines combine ripe fruit, savory herb, and earthy aromas with considerable tannins.  Some wines display reductive qualities as well.

Spain: Montastrell – Murcia/Jumilla

Sight: opaque ruby purple.
Nose: ripe even jammy black fruits with fig, date and prune; also savory herbs, pepper-spice, and vanilla and oak notes.
Palate: full-bodied dry with ripe fruit and more earthiness than the nose.
Structure: alcohol: medium-plus to high; acidity: medium to medium-plus; tannin: medium to medium-plus.  

ID Keys: Monastrell from Jumilla combines ripe, jammy fruits, savory herb, and notes of both mineral and earth—and not nearly the tannin as found in wines from Bandol.  

IX. Nebbiolo

Piedmont: Barolo and Barbaresco

Sight: medium to deep ruby-garnet with considerably rim variation.  Orange and brown can be found at the rim even in young wines. 
Nose: rose petal floral, tar, dried red cherry and cranberry, vegetal-forest floor, mushroom/truffle-earth, and wood; a unique combination of floral and earthy aromas. 
Palate: medium to full-bodied and bone dry.  
Structure: alcohol: medium-plus to high; acidity: medium-plus to high; tannin: high. The wines are often austere, tart and incredibly tannic when young.  
 
ID Keys: color gradation (orange in the rim), high acidity and very high tannins make Nebbiolo fairly easy to recognize.  Also look for the dried fruit and floral qualities.  

X. Sangiovese

Tuscany: Chianti Classico

Sight: medium to deep ruby. Can display rim variation in youth.
Nose: bright red fruits with tomato leaf-green herb, sandalwood, chalky earth, and wood notes. Some wines have Cabernet blended in and display darker fruit qualities as well.
Palate: medium to full-bodied and dry. 
Structure: alcohol: medium to medium-plus; acidity: medium-plus to high; tannin: medium-plus to medium-high.

ID Keys: tart red fruits, sharp (even bitter) herbs, sandalwood, chalky earth and high acidity are key factors. The use of Cabernet and new oak can overwhelm the Sangiovese character.

Brunello di Montalcino: 

Brunellos are made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso and see longer time in wood by law; thus the wines tend to be more evolved on release than a typical Chianti Classico or Vino Nobile.  
 
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: 

Vino Nobiles are allowed up to 30% other grape varieties other than Sangiovese and often display more black fruit characteristics as well as a larger percentage of new wood.  
 
XI. Barbera

Italy: Piedmont

Sight: medium ruby to ruby purple.
Nose: bright, tart black and red fruits, bitter green herbs, floral, and mushroom-earth. Small barriques are sometimes used and created vanilla, sweet spice and toast notes.
Palate: medium to medium-plus bodied and dry to bone dry.  
Structure: alcohol: medium to medium-plus: acidity: medium-plus to high; tannin: medium to medium-plus. 

XII. Tempranillo

Spain: Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva

Sight: medium to deep ruby garnet.
Nose: dried red fruits, dried herb, sunbaked earth, with traditional style wines showing pronounced American oak character (dill-dried herb, vanillin, sweet spice, sawdust).
Palate: medium to medium-plus bodied and dry to
bone dry.  
Structure: alcohol: medium to medium-plus; acidity: medium-plus: tannin: medium to medium-plus.  
 
ID Keys: traditional Rioja Reserva combines dried red fruit, leather, earth and pronounced American oak flavors.  Gran Reserva wines show even more oxidative and aged character.  It’s also important to note that more
producers are using
French oak or a combination of French and American oak. 

XIII. Zinfandel

California–Dry Creek Valley

Sight: medium to deep ruby.
Nose: a combination of red, black and dried fruits, black and/or white pepper, bramble-briar, sweet spices, oak and high alcohol. Some wines also display notes of peach-apricot and yogurt.
Palate: full-bodied and usually dry but full-bodied wines often display jammy or stewed fruit and a touch of residual sugar.  
Structure: alcohol: medium-plus to high; acidity: medium to medium-plus; tannin: medium-plus to high.  
 
ID Keys: the tendency for Zinfandel to ripen unevenly is a big key to recognition and some wines will show both raisiny and under ripe fruit in the same glass. Generally Zinfandel tends to be a full-throttle red with ripe, jammy fruit and pepper-spice qualities.

XIV. Carmenère

Chile

Sight: deep ruby.
Nose: ripe black fruits with pronounced green peppercorn and green her/pepper-vegetal notes; a touch of earthiness is common. 
Palate: medium to full-bodied and dry. 
Structure: alcohol: medium to medium-plus; acidity; medium to medium-plus; tannin: medium to medium-plus.  
 
ID Keys: Carmenère  is similar to Merlot with supple fruit but the vegetal green peppercorn qualities make it unique and unmistakable.  
 
XV. Malbec

Argentina: Mendoza

Sight: deep ruby purple with fuchsia-violet highlights.
Nose: ripe black cherry/berry and cassis with tart cranberry secondary notes; also look for violet, green herb, iron/blood and wood spices. Some wines can display a touch of dusty earthiness.
Palate: medium-plus to full-bodied and dry.
Structure: alcohol: medium-plus to high; acidity: medium to medium-plus; tannin: medium to high. 
 
ID Keys: a combination of deep purple color, ripe and unripe fruits and floral qualities. 

XVI. Pinotage

South Africa

Sight: medium to deep ruby. 
Nose: blackberry, mulberry, green pepper, peppercorn, green herb, iron/blood and medicinal notes. 
Palate: medium to full-bodied and dry. 
Structure: alcohol: medium to medium-plus; acidity: medium to medium-plus; tannin: medium to medium-plus.

ID Keys: bright black fruits and the peppery-medicinal-band aid quality are keys to recognizing Pinotage. 

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