What's in a name? That which we call Morillon by any other name would smell like Chardonnay!
Cencibel, Ulle de Llebre, Aragonez, Valepenas, Tinto de Toro, Tinto Pais and Tinto Roriz. What do all of these things have in common? Well they are all names for the same grape and with the exception of three of them, these are names for the same grape in the same country. And by no means are these the only names for this grape. I have in my notes about thirty synonyms for this wonderful grape of Spain most commonly called Tempranillo.
There is this geeky thing on the web called the Geilweilerhof database that has every conceivable synonym for every conceivable grape on the planet that I visited it often when I was studying for the test I took in August,
I remember one of the questions on the test was " What is Mataro called in France?" Whatever!
Well if I had not studied this weird quirky subject that the Court insists that you know, I would have gotten that wrong. (Actually I think I guessed at that one.)
In Austria common grapes have all sorts of silly names. Chardonnay is called Morillon and Feinburgunder but in France the aliases include Aubaine, Auvernat, Beaunois, Epinette Blanche, Petite Sainte-Marie and Weisser Clevner!
Also in Austria Pinot Blanc is called Weissburgunder and Klevner, Blaufrankish is known as Lemberger in Washinton State but it is also called Kekfracos in Hungary! And some of the other grape names, although they might not have synonyms in other countries are equally silly, Zierfandler, Rotgipfler and Blauer Wildbacher just to name a few.
If you travel to Pourtugal some of the grapes of Spain have totally different names. Tempranillo is Aragonez in the south and Tinto Roriz in the area where Port is made. Mencia the grape of Bierzo is called Jaen. Garnacha (called Grenache in France and Cannonau on the Island of Sardinia) is called Alicante, but that’s not to be confused with Alicante Bouschet which is a cross between Grenache and Petite Bouschet.
Malbec is a classic grape of France that has about 34 different names including Pressac, Auxerrois, Cot and Grifforin. But as the black grape, Malbec is called Auxerrois in Cahors in Southern France. But Auxerrois in Alsace and Chablis is a white grape while in other parts of France Malbec is called Cahors!
Nebbiolo is called Spanna in Gattinara and Ghemme, Picutener and Pugnet in the Carema DOC of N.W. Piedmont and Chiavennasca in Lombardy. At least these grape aliases are confined to the same area of Italy!Welschriesling in Austria is not to be confused with the Riesling of Germany, which is called Riesling Renano in Italy. But there is a Riesling in Austria that should not be confused with the true German Johannisburg Riesling, which is known by the name Rheinriesling, aka Olasz in Hungary.
Ugni Blanc or St. Emilion (not the AOC in Bordeaux) in Cognac and Armagnac is called Trebbiano in Italy with the exception of in Tuscany and Umbria where it can be called Procanico. But don’t call Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Trebbiano because in actuality it is the grape Bombino of the Abruzzo.
Every now and again people comment about how much fun it would be to study the subject of wine implying that studying about wine includes the constant consumption of wine. All I can do is think about explaining what really goes into studying about wine (see above) and then I decide against it and say, "You got that right!" with a conspiratorial wink.
Oh and a quick hint about Greek grape names, if the name of the grape has a lot of X’s or multiple K’s of the word tiko or mavro imbedded somewhere in the name, it is a grape grown in Greece.OY!
"Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!"Alex in A Clockwork Orange (1971)