Crimean viticulturists have been crossing grape species for generations to improve the quality of Crimean wines. There are literally thousands of sub-species of grapes being used to produce wines throughout the peninsula. Below is only a small subset of the major species of grapes being used to produce the wines of Crimea…
The Muscat family of grapes is thought to be one of the oldest domesticated grape varieties. Some viticulturists and scientists believe that the Vitis vinifera species are, in fact, descended from the Muscat family. The Muscat family of grapes is grown world wide and is the most predominant grape family used in Crimean wines.
Muscat Black appeared in Crimea in the first half of the 19th century. It is a Vitis vinifera of grape variety derived a cross between Schiava Grossa and Muscat of Alexandria. It is seen mostly on the Sothern coast of Crimea where it is used to produce high quality dessert wines of the same name.
Muscat Blanc (Myuskadel) is a white gape in the Muscat family. It has the unique attribute of producing grapes of varying colors from year to year. The same vine can produce white grapes one year and pink or reddish-brown grapes the next.
Gray Pinot (Pinot-Gris) is a white variety of the Vitis vinifera grape. It derives its name from its grayish-blue color ("gris" meaning "grey" in French). In Crimea it is often used to make high vintage sweet dessert wines, such as the flavors produced on the South Coast of Tokaj.
Sersial is a white grape of a greenish-yellow shade with transparent skin. It is believed to have originated in sothwestern Europe in either Spain or Portugal. It is reserved for use in the highest quality wines. The grape was first introduced into Crimea during 19th century from France and was a key component in the Massandra brands which sold for record prices at Sotheby's.
Verdelho is a white grape introduced to Crimea during the early 19th century. Besides Crimea, it is most widely found in Portugal. The grape is highly acidic when aged extensively, and fruiter flavored when aged for a short duration.
Cabernet Sauvignon is red grape emanating originally from the Bordeaux region of France. It is now found worldwide. The species is well known for its green bell pepper flavor.
Merlot grape is used in both varietal wines and as an ingredient in blended varieties. It is currently the world’s most popular red grape, surpassing Cabernet Sauvignon in the early 1990s.
Saperavi is a red grape which originally emanated from Georgia. Its name means "painter" in reference to the extremely deep, dark-red wine it produces. It is used in the western valleys of Crimea to produce table wines and on the southern coast where it is used to make high quality dessert wines of the same name.
Malbec is a red grape variety that has a dark-blue coloring and strong tannins. It requires warmer conditions to mature than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Besides Crimea, it is found primarily in France and Argentina.
Bastardo Magarachsky is a new species of grape created by crossing Bastardo and Saperavi vines. It is used to produce sweet red dessert wines.
Sémillon is a white grape with golden skin. It is used to make both dry and sweet white wines. It is found throughout Crimea and is used to produce a variety of wines.
Aligoté is a white grape largely associated with Burgundy France, but has a notable presence in Eastern Europe as well as Crimea. In Crimea it is used to make both table wines and champagne.
Riesling is a white grape introduced to Crimea from the banks of the Rhine River in Germany. The grape which produces a perfume like aroma is used in Crimea for a large variety of wine products ranging from cooking wine to higher quality blends.
Sylvaner is an ancient white grape that has grown in the Germanic regions of Europe for centuries where it is referred to as Grüner Silvaner. The grape's flavor is considered bland and it is often mixed with other grapes to enhance flavor.
Mourvèdre, Mataró, or Monastrell is variety of wine grape used to make both strong, dark-red wines and rosés. It is an international variety grown in many regions around the world. Mourvèdre produces tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is most successful in Rhone-style blends.