What "second-tier" grape do you think can be elevated to "Noble Grape" status?

I’m sure there’s probably no consensus on Noble Grapes, but that list probably includes

Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot Noir

and might also include

Cabernet Franc
Sauvignon Blanc
Chenin Blanc
etc etc

The reason why I ask the collective hive-mind is that for many grapes, their ascension to “Noble Grape” status has to do with their refinement, selection and site-matching abilities. Are there grapes that haven’t had enough time and attention to get to the level of the elite grapes, but could?

A friend of mine gave me a couple different wines made from Xarel-lo, the Spanish white wine grape and he told me earnestly that he was coming around to thinking that it was actually a noble grape even if it hadn’t traditionally been given that respect.

What do you all think?

These topics are out of control.
No, on Xarel-lo. AYFKM, with a nod to McEnroe

I’ll dive in.

Pinot Gris (very rarely as Grigio)
Pinot Blanc or Bianco (not often)
Malbec (frequently)

coming from another place, maybe

Sorry, much as I love the rare be(a)st, not Carignan.


Dan Kravitz

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Zinfandel. We know it’s about 1000 year older than that Cab upstart. [cheers.gif]


It’s already up there.

well… like I said then!

lol reading comprehension was not a requirement for me to make a username I guess.

Can’t believe Merlot was not included in the list of already noble grapes. I don’t care for it, but I have to respect it.

As for grapes that should be noble but are not currently recognized as such:

Nerello Mascalese
Sylvaner (a bit of a stretch perhaps)

I’ll get you the names of the wines he recommended to me and you can check them out. I certainly found them beyond my expectations.

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Why not GRK?!?

Gris and Blanc are interesting suggestions to me but I suppose the bloodline has already proven itself - and Meunier can make much better wines than it did twenty years ago.

For sure there are some very significant Malbecs already being made. Good call - I think it’s just a matter of time before they are undeniable.

There’s definitely something to be said for a grape that has been propagated for such a long time. I suppose I’d have to add Muscat to the Noble Grape list, although I don’t know if I’d have many folks agreeing with me.

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Agreed on Merlot, but I might relegate it to 2nd tier simply because it hasn’t produced nearly as many great wines on its own as CS has, and has probably had as much attention given their widespread plantings and proximity.

I love Aglianico, Nerello and Sylvaner very much. I think Aglianico definitely could ascend to a top rank based on its makeup. Nerello Mascalese is fascinating but if I remember Ian d’Agata’s book correctly, there’s rather poor record keeping on Etna and the amount of vineyards purportedly planted to NM is heavily disputed. There may be quite a lot of great Etna wine that is descended from Grenache, Sangiovese and who knows what else. Sylvaner certainly has balance and site specificity - and I think it could do a lot of the same things Gruner does with the same level of attention. Also, not including Gruner in the Noble list is a big oversight. [oops.gif]

Mourvedre. Bandol from the likes of Tempier and Chateau Pradeaux rocks.


Merlot has not produced enough great wines? Look at Pomerols and St. Emilions. How many Cabs sell for as much as Petrus and Ausone?

Palomino Fino
Chenin Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc

Definitely Tempranillo, Grenache and Mourvedre.
Definitely NOT Roussanne and Marsanne. [stirthepothal.gif]

Definitely all of both your tier 1 and tier 2 lists, plus Merlot, Marsanne, Roussanne, Semillon, Zinfandel, Malbec, and a good number of Spanish and Italian grapes.

All proven of making outstanding wines in multiple places in the world with desirable variety in both winemaking style and varietal response to their environment.

I personally don’t really like the term, but if we’re going to use it I think we should use it much more broadly to include most of the proven quality winemaking grapes as opposed to, say, Muscadine, unproven hybrids and dud selections. To me, a “noble” grape” is basically one capable of making fine wine.

How about ditching the asinine category of “noble grapes” instead? Conservatively there are thousands of gallons of trash wine made from “noble grapes” each year while fantastic wines are being made from hundreds of varieties that aren’t in that category, making it a useless designation. Let’s evolve past such a myopic view of the value of varieties and let the ignorant concept of “noble grapes” die.


“Until fairly recently, generations of wine authorities habitually referred to the “noble” grapes, classically a group of six considered to have aristocratic potential: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and riesling. The constituency differed slightly depending on who was doing the ordaining, but this was the core group.” Quoted from Asimov in the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/dining/drinks/wine-grapes.html.

I think moving away from the term Noble would make sense for top grapes. These six varieties are successful in other regions, which I thought was part of the reason for their nobility. However, noble is an old world term that has mostly outlived its usefulness.

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I think chenin blanc has to be on the list based on the wide range of stupendous wines from the Loire.

I’d consider assyrtiko, also.

Not sure what to say about nerello mascalese or sangiovese. I like a lot of wines from both, but are they in the top tier? [scratch.gif]

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