Principal Grape Varieties

Principal Grape Varieties

The grape variety or blend of grape varieties used to make a wine is a key factor influencing the style and quality of wine that is produced. In this blog we’ll share about the main aroma and taste characteristics of the main grape varieties.

You can use these descriptions to assist in analyzing a wine and in determining the types of grapes used to make a wine.However, the wines taste is subjective to different people, there is no right and wrong in tasting wine, so just relax and enjoy your wines!

White Varieties


Chardonnay is one of the most popular and widely planted grape varieties. Chardonnay is the grape used for the white wines of Burgundy in France.  The wines from Chablis come from the coolest part of Burgundy, and have high acidity and a light body. These wines are typically unoaked. Other places well known for producing Chardonnay wines include Australia and California.Chardonnay can also be used in the making of Champagne, where it is often blended with Pinot Noir.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc produces dry wines that are medium-bodied. They are often fermented in stainless steel tanks and are usually not matured in oak, to retain their characteristic Sauvignon Blanc aromas. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Sancerre from France are popular wines made from this variety.

Black/Red Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon produces dry wines, range between medium and full-bodied.  The wines are often matured in oak, which adds flavours of cedar and vanilla.  Due to its high levels of tannins, Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with other grape varieties, such as Merlot in Bordeaux, which adds softness and body to blend.  It’s also grown widely in California, Australia, Chile and South Africa.  In Australia, it’s sometimes blended with Shiraz, which adds aromas of spice.


Merlot makes wines that are generally dry and medium-to-full-bodied.  They are often matured in oak, giving aromas of vanilla.  Merlot is widely grown in a number of places, such as Chile and California to produce soft, fruity wines.  It’s also commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds tannin and acidity to the blend.  Bordeaux is the most famous region for Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blends.

Pinot Noir

Wines made from Pinot Noir tend to be dry and light-bodied, and are often matured in oak, which can give vanilla and clove aromas.  Pinot Noir is the grape used for red Burgundy and it’s the principal black grape in New Zealand.  When producing red wines, Pinot Noir can also be used in the making of Champagne, where it’s often blended with Chardonnay.


This grape variety is known as Syrah in France and Shiraz in Australia.  It produces dry wines that are medium-to-full-bodied.  Many are matured in oak to give flavours of vanilla or coconut to the wine.

The Northern Rhone in France can produce wines that are medium-bodied with fresh black fruit (blackberry) and pepper aromas.  In comparison, warm regions in Australia can produce full-bodied Shiraz wines with jammy black fruit (black cherry) and licorice flavors.

Villa Maria Earth Garden Organic Series

Villa Maria Earth Garden Organic Series

A delicious range of organic wines that reflect the thriving New Zealand land that gave them life. Organically grown with wildflower gardens between the vineyard rows and regenerative viticulture to keep New Zealand’s soils healthy and ecosystems thriving.

EarthGarden embodies the holistic view of sustainability where organic management means healthy soils and vineyard ecosystems, creating healthy vines and wines full of life and flavour, just as nature intended. EarthGarden is Villa Maria’s first range of wines to be 100% organically grown and BioGro certified.

Villa Maria wines are made for the moment and these wines perfectly capture a moment in time, whether it is cool nights, long hot days, or the warm Pacific breeze of the growing season. The essence and purity of the New Zealand landscape has been bottled in the EarthGarden range, when you taste the EarthGarden wines, you taste the care put into the soil, the conscious tending of the vines, the careful handling of the fruit produced and the respect for our relationship with the land.

Organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (Cameron Douglas 94 points)

EarthGarden Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with flavour as nature intended.

A zesty fruit-driven Sauvignon Blanc. Organically grown in Marlborough the complexity and character of these vineyards shine through in the glass through texture, palate weight and intensity.

Organic Marlborough Pinot Noir (Cameron Douglas 93 Points)

EarthGarden Pinot Noir is bursting with flavour as nature intended.

An earthy, dark and brooding Pinot Noir brimming with the complexity and character of organically grown Marlborough vineyards.

Organic Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon (Cameron Douglas 91 Points)

EarthGarden Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon is bursting with flavour as nature intended.

The high temperatures and settled weather of Hawkes Bay lets the organic vineyards thrive. This is a wine rich in colour and flavour with the depth of character that organic viticulture brings.

Organic Hawkes Bay Rosé (Bob Campbell 91 Points)

EarthGarden Rosé is bursting with flavour as nature intended.

Delicate and deliciously dry with flavours of blood-orange, rosehip and watermelon. The dreamy, sun-soaked Hawkes Bay summer is captured in the organically grown Rosé.

Shop for Villa Maria Earth Garden Organic Series:

Sangre De Toro 5.5

Sangre De Toro 5.5
Hey bros and brodettes, do you enjoy drinking wine but don’t like the feeling of getting drunk? Try Sangre De Toro 5.5, available in Red, White and Rose! This is the low-alcohol range from Sangre De Toro; the alcohol content for these wines is only 5.5%, suitable for those seeking something lighter.

Sangre De Toro 5.5 Rose

Sangre De Toro 5.5 Rose is a low-alcohol rose wine, it has fine fruity notes and a silky, delicate and taste in the mouth.

Sangre De Toro 5.5 White

Sangre De Toro 5.5 White is gold in color, fresh, fruity and slightly sweet. This low-alcohol white is wonderful when you are in the mood for a little sweetness and exquisitely fine acidity.

Sangre De Toro 5.5 Red

Sangre De Toro 5.5 Red is a fine, subtle low-alcohol red wine with red fruit aromas that will delight you in its silky, balanced, lovely flavor. This low-alcohol red wine is for those seeking something lighter.