Writing about wine opens a new vocabulary many times criticized. Certainly, many times descriptions and impressions could be conveyed in a more approachable language, but once we get immersed in this world we could get carried away.
The following are some terms that took me a while to differentiate.
The varietal vs. variety topic it’s a typical candidate for mix-ups. A wine can be varietal, but the vines and its grapes are varieties, or more properly, cultivars. Wines made 100% with a single variety are defined as varietals. Wines made with several varieties are blends.
This topic is sometimes affected by regulation. In many instances, regulation indicates that to label a wine as a varietal, it should contain a minimum percentage of such grape (could range from 75% to 100%). These rules allow winemakers to label blended wines as varietals, as long as the main variety is over the established limit. It seems that this practice is more established in value segments (the popular fighting varietals). In higher end segments, winemakers pride themselves on their blends and usually they are well described in the labels.
Moving from winemaking to viticulture. I used to confuse green pruning with green harvesting.
Viticulture is very closely related to winemaking. Both techniques relate to yield control of the vine to achieve concentration on the fruit in the vineyard.
Vines are pruned in winter to clear out the previous year’s growth and make room for new shoots, setting the main structure of the vine. Green pruning occurs after budbreak. The goal of green pruning is to remove excess shoots to put the vine into equilibrium. Both tasks require understanding the individual characteristics of each plant and lots of experience.
Later on the growing season, the removal of immature grape bunches is called green harvest. In French, it is known as a vendange verte. By removing the tiny, immature grapes while they are still green induces the vine to put all its energy into developing the remaining grapes. In theory this results in better ripening and the development of more numerous and mature flavor compounds. In the absence of a green harvest, a healthy, vigorous vine can produce dilute, unripe grapes.
Now is clear!