What are the Major Cool and Warm Climate Grape Varietals?

Cool climate Riesling grapes

Cool climate Riesling grapes

By Guest Author, Sumun Rahim – Any wine lover who has studied the French concept of “terroir” knows that the same grape varietal can produce vastly different wine depending on what type of soil and in what climate it’s grown. Some wines do best in cool, even cold, climates; others are better-suited to warm, sunny weather. Knowing which wines thrive in which climates can help you enjoy local wine more fully when you travel as well as be a guide to help you choose from the selection available at the average wine store.  Below is a look at the different wines that thrive in cool and warm climates.

Cooler Climate Wines

  • Riesling — Riesling is a classic, cold-weather grape and its flavor and character profile changes significantly if it’s planted in different environments. The best Riesling wines come from the Alsace region of France and Germany’s Rhine River valley.
  • Pinot Noir – This cold weather favorite is very particular about its soil and thrives in dry, cool climates. The world’s best Pinot Noirs hail from France’s Burgundy region and the Willamette Valley of Oregon.
  • Chardonnay —  Chardonnays does well in the cooler climate of Burgundy France, as well as the foggy coast of California near the Russian River.  Cooler regions of New Zealand and Australia are also famous for exquisite Chardonnays
  • Ice-wine — The quintessential cold weather wine, Ice-wine is crafted naturally by allowing the grapes to freeze on the vine, which concentrates the natural sugars in the fruit. Arguably, the best Ice-wines come from Germany, the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada where temperatures fall way below freezing.   Riesling and Vidal Blanc are common grape varieties used for Ice Wine.

Warmer Climates Wines

  • Warmer climate cabernet sauvignon grapes

    Warmer climate cabernet sauvignon grapes

    Cabernet Sauvignon—Cab usually thrives better in a warmer climate, such as sunny Napa Valley or the continental climate of Bordeaux.  Excellent cabernets can also be found in the warmer valleys of Chile, Argentina and Australia.

  • Zinfandel — This red grape with dark blackberry and slight black pepper overtones is a California favorite. It thrives in the hot, dry Lodi Valley of central California as well as the Sierra Foothills.  Zinfandel is also grown in Southern Italy and Croatia.
  • Sangiovese -- The grape that makes Chianti so wonderful and complex loves a warm, Mediterranean climate, particularly that of the Tuscany region of Italy.
  • Syrah– Syrah can actually adapt itself to cool and warmer climates, but has a tendency to exhibit more fruit-forward flavors when it is grown in a warm location such as the Barossa valley of Australia or the Paso Robles region of California.  At the same time, the cooler region of France’s northern Rhone Valley is the home of Syrah, where the climate often imparts a slightly smoky taste with floral accents.

Climate and growing conditions are just some of the factors that help to create a delicious wine. Knowing what wines thrive in which climates can help you get the most enjoyment from your wine tasting.

This guest post was written by a content editor for Personal Wine. To learn more about Personal Wine, check out our site –> www.personalwine.com.

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