French name for the most noble grape varieties in the world. Of course, their use does not automatically and in any case result in a top quality wine, but they are often found in such, either as a single variety or as a blending partner in cuvées. There are no measurable criteria that allow a clear assignment to the "circle of the chosen ones". Even among experts, not 100% of the same varieties are mentioned, but there is a relatively high degree of agreement. An important criterion is a worldwide distribution in many countries. This means that the vines or the wines made from them have proven their high quality under different climatic conditions and different winemaking methods and have received the highest recognition. The red wine varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir and Syrah (Shiraz), as well as the white wine varieties Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon are most frequently mentioned as the noblest.
In the opinion of the well-known US wine critic Robert Parker, the Grenache Noir(Garnacha Tinta), Cot and Tempranillo varieties, which in his opinion are underestimated, are also included. It should be mentioned that there are a number of often autochthonous grape varieties that regularly produce top wines in certain growing regions. Many wine-growing countries can provide examples of this. For Austria, Grüner Veltliner can be mentioned here, for Switzerland Chasselas, for France Cinsaut and Tannat, for Italy Barbera and Sangiovese, for Hungary Furmint, for South Africa Pinotage and for California Zinfandel
Positive characteristics of these varieties are generally small hard-shelled berries and colour intensity (in red wine varieties) as well as the potential for high and balanced total extract values(sugar, acids, alcohol etc.) and a wide range of aromatic substances in the wine pressed from them. In close connection with this, top products are often characterised by extreme durability or longevity. The optimal drinking maturity is often only reached after some time or longer bottle aging (10, 15 and more years). For more information on the topic of top wines, see also the keywords auctions, wine of the century, comet wine and most expensive wines in the world.
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)