Chardonnay grapes originated in Burgundy and Champagne, France, and produce wines of the same name. This hearty grape thrives in varied climates and now grows worldwide. It readily takes on the flavor of oak and produces wine with the aromas of tropical fruit, butter and vanilla.
Originally grown in Bordeaux, France, this grape has a thin skin, making it susceptible to infection by Brotrytis cinerea, a common fungus that particularly affects grapes. Sauvignon Blanc grapes typically produce wine with the aromas of freshly cut grass and tropical fruits.
Riesling grapes originated in Germany and today also grow in Australia and Alsace, France. This grape variety is said to produce some of the finest and most complex white wines in the world. Riesling grapes typically produce crisp, sweet white wines with the aromas of fruit blossom, lime and minerals.
Widely grown in Bordeaux, with some success in Australia, Semillon grapes are grown little elsewhere. Similar to the Sauvignon Blanc grapes, they are thin-skinned and thus susceptible to fungal infection. Wines produced with this grape variety are rich, with aromas of honey and buttered toast.
Common in the Loire Valley of France and various locations in South Africa, this grape produces a sweet, light-flavored wine, with notes of crisp green apples. Chenin Blanc is also a thin-skinned grape and prone to infection by fungi. It produces complex dessert wines.
One of the top grapes grown in Alsace, France, Pinot Gris grapes also grow in Italy and Germany, as well as other parts of Europe. This grape, which is a mutated clone of the red wine Pinot Noir grape, produces light, spicy wines with notes of tropical fruit.
Originally grown in the Rhone River area of Switzerland and France, Viognier grapes were at risk of extinction just a few years ago. Their popularity has grown, particularly in California, and the number of plantings is increasing. This grape variety, which has been referred to as "the new Chardonnay," produces light-bodied wines with intense aromas of peach and orange blossom.
Originally hailing from Germany, this grape now grows in Alsace, New Zealand and the United States. This grape produces wines with intense spicy and floral aromas, which are often sweet.