This means that both parents belong to a vine species, such as vitis vinifera. If the cross is made between grapes from different species (such as vitis vinifera and vitis labrusca) it is called a ‘hybrid’ – and they tend to be far less successful.
It may seem strange that breeders would want to create more varietals, when we have 24,000 available, but the aim is to grow better quality, healthier, hardier, virus-free and more efficient yielders.
The most popular red cross is South Africa’s pinotage, created in the 1920s from pinot noir and cinsault. The idea was to combine the soft tannins and approachability of pinot noir with the structure of cinsault. The result was more rustic and tannic than planned, but pinotage caught on in the Cape.
Another successful red cross is caladoc – created from malbec and grenache, to assist Rhone growers, as caladoc is less prone to coulure (poor fruit set) than its parent grenache. It has been attracting attention in Southern France (where there are 1,400 hectares of the grape), Argentina and Portugal. Zuccardi in Argentina makes a delicious great value example.
Zweigelt in Austria was created in the 1920s from Austrian grapes, St Laurent and blaufrankisch. Growers had been finding St Laurent a disease-prone grape. Zweigelt is a hardier, more versatile cropper, though not quite as appealing in quality as its other parent blaufrankisch.
Geisenheim in Germany is the most prolific breeding institution – its creations include samling 88, huxelrebe and dornfelder. Lesser quality crossings are Dr Hermann Muller’s Muller thurgau and bacchus.
Italy: KERNER 2009 Cantina Valle Isarco
Grape cross: riesling and trollinger
Smells like a floral, appley riesling, tastewise it is dry, nutty and leafy.
Argentina: CALADOC FINCA BELTRAN DE AUTOR 2010 Zuccardi
Grape cross: malbec and grenache
Imagine the damson blackfruit aromas and flavours of malbec with the soft smooth voluptuousness of grenache.
South Africa: BEYERSKLOOF PINOTAGE RESERVE 2008
(£9.99, Majestic Wine)
Grape cross: pinot noir and cinsault
Smoky burnt marshmallows with mulberry fruits and lush texture.
Australia: BROWN BROTHERS TARRANGO 2010
Grape cross: touriga and sultana
Bright, juicy, softly tannic quaffer.
Austria: KURT ANGERER ZWEIGELT GRANIT 2008
Grape cross: St Laurent and blaufrankisch
Rich cherry fruits, peppery notes. Delicious.
Austria: SAMLING 88 TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE 2009 Hans Tschida
Grape cross: riesling and sylvaner
Incredible richness. Sublime.