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Nebbiolo grapes are grown primarily in the Piedmont region of Italy where they can produce great wines; outside of Piedmont, though, the grapes produce mediocre wines at best. Nebbiolo has complex flavors and aromas, including roses, cherries, truffles, and mints. There can even be hints of tar, tobacco, and leather. Other characteristics of wine made from Nebbiolo grapes include high tannins, high acidity, and high alcohol content. Nebbiolo wines take on orange tinges when they are aged.
Barbera is the third most widely planted red grape variety in Italy though it is most common in the Asti and Alba regions. Barbera grapes produce rich, red wines with strong fruit flavors and aromas, especially black cherry. Other characteristics of wines made with Barbera grapes include low, mild tannins and high acidity which produces a crisp taste.
Syrah grapes, known as Shiraz in Australia, produce full-bodied, long-lived, fruity wines. Syrah/Shiraz flavors and aromas include peppers, berries, currants, and even chocolate. Syrah grapes originated in France's Rhone valley and their use in wines is traced back to the Romans and Greeks. Syrah is usually bottled alone as a varietal wine but can be blended with other grapes like Cabernet and Grenache. Syrah wines have some of the strongest, most distinctive flavors and aromas of any red wine.
Riesling grapes, which originate in Germany's Rhine region, have sweet fruity flavors and aromas of flowers and fruits. Other characteristics of wines made form Riesling grapes include high acidity and petrol notes if aged. The character of a Riesling wine depends heavily on where it is grown because Riesling grapes are very 'terroir expressive.' Rieslings cannot be oaked like Chardonnays and the oak flavor is part of what draws people to Chardonnay.
The Chenin Blanc grape variety originates in the Loire Valley of France. Also called Steen when grown in South Africa, Chenin Blanc grapes are used to produce wines of varying quality. Favors and aromas of Chenin Blanc wines include fruit, honey, quince, and grasses. Other characteristics of wines made from Chenin Blanc grapes include an oily texture, high acidity, and a deep gold coloring. The specific characteristics of Chenin Blanc wines depend heavily on where they are grown.
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