Varietal character or varietal typicity is the totality of all the olfactory, taste and colour characteristics which are typical of a given grape variety in a wine. In the case of old wines, however, this is increasingly blurred. The aroma (primary aroma) is particularly characteristic of certain varieties. These are, for example, all varieties of Muscatel(Muscatel = grape) or Traminer(roses, spices). The second group has a discreet but also characteristic aroma, such as Cabernet Sauvignon (currant or blackcurrant), Müller-Thurgau (Muscatton), Riesling (peaches, apricots) and Sauvignon Blanc(grassy). Some varieties are called bouquet varieties because of certain aromatic substances.
The third group has only a weak varietal aroma, as is the case with the Blauer Portugieser, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sémillon and Silvaner varieties. Barrique ageing or the use of botrytised grapes causes the typical taste of the wine to be lost or is overlaid by wood or honey notes. In order to preserve the characteristics, this must be taken into account during fermentation. Cooled fermentation at around 15 °Celsius and ageing in stainless steel are advantageous. However, the characteristic features of a wine go far beyond the typicality of the variety due to other factors. See Typicity and a list of grape variety-specific keywords under Grapevine.
Graphic: © Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer