Grape Varietals

Wine Season 2017!

We have received our last shipment of grape juice from California.  Please stop in or call to see what is available.

Grapes and Juice

Following a very wet winter and early spring, the weather in California has been hot and dry again this year and the grape harvest will begin in mid-August.  Several varieties will not be available to us on the East Coast since they will have been harvested and turned into grape juice or wine by the time they ship from California.

We will be receiving our first trailers for the September 14th weekend.  Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio grapes will only be available the weekend of September 14th.  Pinot Noir will only be available for the first two weekends, September 14th and September 21st.

All the grapes will be delivered by October 14th so this will be a very early and short wine season.

The prices are higher for grapes and juice this year due to increases in the labor costs for picking and packing the grapes and new trucking regulations.

We will start taking orders on Saturday August 19th.  If you wish to order grapes and juice please get your orders in by September 6th.  There is a $30 deposit for each bucket of juice and a $15 deposit for each case of grapes. The deposits are non-refundable.  As usual we will have grapes and juice available to buy without ordering each weekend.

If you do not have a grape crusher we will be crushing grapes in the morning on four Saturdays: September 23rd, 30th, October 7th and 14th.  There is a $4.00 charge for crushing a case of grapes.  You will need to bring your own buckets or purchase some in which to put your crushed grapes.

You can order grapes and juice in person at the store, by phone or online at our website at and

Maltose Express in Connecticut sells supplies, equipment, California wine grapes and California and Italian grape juice for making wine at home. During our wine season we sell many different grape varietals.


Red Grape Varietals:

Alicante Bouschet: Alicante Bouschet is a wine grape variety that has been widely cultivated since the 1860s. It is a cross of Grenache with Petit Bouschet and is one of the only grapes with red flesh inside the grape skin. It’s deep color makes it ideal for blending with lighter colored grapes to darken the color of the wine. It was planted heavily during Prohibition in California for export to the East Coast. This grape is one of several that is packed in 42 pound cases and makes a dry, dark, full bodied wine with a chalk like taste.  Wines made from 100% Alicante Bouschet can be bottled and consumed in 12 months.

Barbera:  Barbera is believed to have originated in central Piemonte, Italy where it has been known from the thirteenth century. This grape produces a red, deep colored, full bodied wine and produces a dry somewhat tannic wine that ages well and softens with time. When young, the wines offer a very intense aroma of fresh red and blackberries. In the lightest versions notes of cherries, raspberries and blueberries and with notes of blackberry and black cherries in wines made of more ripe grapes. Lightly oaking this wine provides for increased complexity, aging potential, and hints of vanilla notes.  Barbera is a nice grape for blending with darker grapes such as Alicante and Syrah.  Wines made from Barbera can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Cabernet Franc: Cabernet Franc is believed to have been established in southwest France sometime in the 17th century. Cabernet Franc shares many of the same phenolic and aroma compounds as Cabernet Sauvignon but with some noticeable differences. Cabernet Franc tends to be more lightly pigmented and produces wines with the same level of intensity and richness. Cabernet Franc tends to have a more pronounced perfume with notes of raspberries, black currants, violets and green bell peppers. It has slightly less tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon and tends to produce a wine with a smoother mouth feel.  This is a great blending grape to use if you are making Cabernet Suavignon.  It also can give complexity to a Merlot.  If you make your wine from 100% Cabernet Franc, you can bottle and consume your wine in 1 year to 18 months.

Cabernet Sauvignon:  Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. Wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon is usually dry, tannic and full flavored.  The Cabernet Sauvignon grape has a thick skin that results in wines that can be high in tannin which provides structure and the ability to age. This grape is strongly associated with the red wines of Bordeaux and is blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. The aroma of Cabernet Sauvignon has been described as chocolate, ripe jammy berries, oak, pepper, earth, violets, blackcurrant, spice, and cedar.  If you make your wine from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, it is best to age this wine 1 to 2 years before drinking it.  You can blend some Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon in order to give the resulting wine a smoother taste and enable you to drink the wine sooner.  The Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi tend to be on the drier side, the Super Cabernet grapes will give you a great wine that matures early, while the Cabernet Suavignon grapes from Amador and Paso Robles will give you a wine that is jammier with more fruit in the nose.

Carignane:  Carignane is a grape that originated in Spain and was later transplanted to the USA.  Carignane is mainly used in blending with Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. This grape is noted for high alcohol, high tannins, and a light red color and will give your drier wines more fruit flavor.  Wines made from 100% Carignane can be bottled and consumed in 1 year.

Grenache:  Grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, a light rose color and a slightly sharp taste.  It tends to lack acid, tannin and color, and is usually blended with other varieties such as Syrah and Carignane.  Grenache is also used to make rosé wines in France and Spain and the high sugar levels of Grenache have led to extensive use in fortified wines such as Port.  However, the Grenache grown in the USA is not as full flavored as the European Grenache.  Wines made from Grenache can be bottled and consumed by 6 to 9 months.

Malbec:  Malbec is one of the traditional “Bordeaux varietals” and has characteristics that fall somewhere between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  It usually has a very deep color, ample tannin, and a particular plum-like flavor component to add complexity to blends.  Wines made from Malbec can be bottled and consumed in 18 months.

Merlot: Merlot used both as a blending grape and for varietal wines. Merlot based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes in Bordeaux wine where it is the most widely planted grape.  Wines made from Merlot can be bottled and consumed in one year.

Mouvedre: Mourvedre 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. Mourvedre produces tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is most successful in Rhone-style blends. It blends well with Grenache, softening it and giving it structure. Its taste varies greatly according to area, but often has a wild, gamey or earthy flavor, with soft red fruit flavors.  Wines made from Mouvedre can be bottled and consumed in 18 months to 2 years.

Nebbiolo: Nebbiolo is one of the most important wine grape varieties in Italy’s Piedmont region and is used to make Barolo and Barbaresco. Wine made from the Nebbiolo grape generally have strong tannins and high acidity. Aromas have been described as tar, roses, and camphor with flavors of mint, plum, and licorice.  The Nebbiolo grown in California tends to be lighter in color and body that it’s predecessors in Europe.  You should blend a darker grape, such as Petite Sirah or Syrah with Nebbiolo to give it more color and structure.  Wines made with Nebbiolo can be bottle and consumed in 12 months to 18 months.

Petite Sirah:Petite Sirah is a variety of red wine grape primarily grown in California, Australia, France, and Israel. These grapes produce a deep colored, robust, peppery wine that packs plenty of tannin and has good aging ability. Compared to Syrah, the wine is noticeably more dark in color.  Petite Sirah is a great grape to blend with Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to give your wine more color.  Wines made from 100% Petite Sirah should be bottled and consumed in 2 to 3 years and will get more spicy as they age.

Petite Verdot:  Petit Verdot is a variety of red wine grape used in classic Bordeaux blends.   This grape will prduce a deep colored wine with an intense flavor.   It is also useful in enhancing the mid palate of Cabernet Sauvignon blends.  Wines made from 100% Petite Verdot should be bottled and consumed in 2 to 3 years.  These wines have done very well in the Maltose Express wine contests.

Pinot Noir:  The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” alluding to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit. It is originally from France where it is used in many of the great red burgundies.  This grape produces a wine that is clear, brilliant, and medium to deep red in color. It can be rich, velvety, and full of flavors such as cherries, raspberries, and strawberries but is lighter in flavor and complexity than a Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wines made from 100% Pinot Noir can be bottled and consumed in 12 to 18 months.

Ruby Cabernet:  Ruby Cabernet is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignane created in 1936 by Dr Harold Olmo at UC Davis in California.  Ruby Cabernet can produce wines with medium red color and a pleasant cherry flavor and is also used in blending.  Wines made from 100% Ruby Cabernet can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Sangiovese:  Sangiovese appears to have originated in Tuscany, where it was known by the 16th century but has been widely planted in California. At least fourteen Sangiovese clones exist, of which Brunello is one of the best regarded. It is most famous as the main component of the Chianti blend in Tuscany. Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavors of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it can be enhanced by light oak flavors when aged in barrels.  Most of the California Sangiovese grapes are lighter in color than the European grapes.  However the Sangivese grapes from Amador will give you more color, tannins and flavors that other California Sangivese grapes.  Wine made from 100% Sangiovesee can be bottled and consumed in 18 to 24 months.

Syrah:  Wines made from Syrah are often full bodied with aromas ranging from from violets to berries, chocolate, espresso and black pepper. Syrah is widely used to make a dry red table wine and is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache and Mourvedre.  Syrah is also called Shiraz in Australia, South Africa, and Canada.  Syrah wines can be very dark in color.  Wines made from 100% Syrah can be bottled and consumed in 18 months to 2 years.

Tempranillo:  Tempranillo is native to Spain and is the main grape used in Rioja. The grape makes a full- bodied red wine which can be consumed young. Tempranillo wines can be also be aged in oak and the best are ruby red in color, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb.  Wines made from 100% Tempranillo can be bottled and consumed in 1 year to 18 months.

Valdepena:  The Valdepena grape is thick skinned and deep red in color. Wines produced from these grapes tend to be medium to deep red.  Aromas have been described as leather, tobacco, vanilla, and earthy.   Valdepena wine has been described as a lighter flavored Zinfandel.  Wines made from Valdepena can be bottled and consumed in 1 year.

Zinfandel:  Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. The grapes typically produce a robust red wine. The grapes can have a high sugar content which will ferment into a high level of alcohol. Styles include: a light spicy flavor with a berry-like aroma, or a full-bodied, oak aged, berry-like, dark colored.  Zinfandel wines can be bottled with no oak, light oak ar heavy oak depending on your tastes.  Wine makers often add some Petite Sirah or Alicante to their Zinfandel wines in order to give the wine a deeper color.  Wines made with 100% Zinfandel grapes can be bottled and consumed in 9 months to 1 year.  Zinfandel wines will change during aging, being very fruity in the first year or two to more spicy in the second year.

Zinfandel (Old Vine):  Grape vines can grow for over 120 years but after about 20 years the vines start to produce smaller crops, and average yields decrease, leading to more concentrated, intense wines. “Old vines” might apply to an entire estate, or it might mean only a certain parcel planted before others.   In a place where wine production is longstanding, it often means a wine whose vines are thirty years old.

Zinfandel (Ancient Vine):  Some California vineyards up to 125 years old are still bearing small amounts of prized Zinfandel fruit. We get Ancient Vine Zinfandel grapes from vines that are over 130 years old.

White Grape Varietals:

Albarino:  Albarino is a variety of white wine grape originally grown in northwest Spain and northwest Portugal, where it is used to make varietal white wines. The grape is noted for its distinctive aroma, very similar to that of Viognier and Gewurztraminer, suggesting apricot and peach. The wine produced is unusually light, and generally high in acid.  You can bottle and consume wines made from Albarino in 9 months to 12 months.

Chardonnay:  Chardonnay originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France but is now grown all over the world. Chardonnay flavors have been described as citrus and melon and are made with and without barrel aging. Chardonnay is also produced using malolactic fermentation which imparts a buttery flavor. Chardonnay is a versatile grape producing a soft, fruity wine without oak aging and aromas of smoke, vanilla, and caramel with barrel aging.  Wines made from Chardonnay grapes can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Chenin Blanc:  Chenin Blanc originated in the Loire Valley of France. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines. Chenin Blanc when fermented as a single varietal wine will have flavors of quince and apples or it can add acidity as a blending component.  Wines made from 100% Chenin Blanc can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

French Columbard:  French Colombard might be a descendant of Chenin Blanc. This grape provides backbone to a white wine blend, due to its natural acidic character.   French Colombard can produce a crisp, moderately dry, spicy wine.  Wines made from French Columbard can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Gewurztraminer:  Gewurztraminer is an aromatic white wine grape variety with a pink to red skin color. The variety has high natural sugar and the wines are white and usually off-dry, with a bouquet of tropical fruit. Dry Gewurztraminers may also have aromas of roses, passion fruit and floral notes.  Wines made from Gewurztraminer grapes and can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Muscat Alexander:  The Muscat family of grapes is widely grown for wine, raisins, and table grapes. Colors range from white to almost black, but almost always have a pronounced sweet floral aroma. Muscat is perhaps the oldest domesticated grape varieties due to the breadth and number of varieties. Wine made from Muscat Alexandria tend to be sweet and very fruity with an earthy taste and it is often used in champagnes and white ports.  Wines made with Muscat can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Muscat Cannelli: Muscat Canelli gets it’s name comes from its characteristic small berry size and tight clusters. While technically a white grape, there are strains of vines that produce berries that are pink or reddish brown. Muscat Canelli produces outstanding sweet dessert wines and also forms the basis of Asti Spumante.  Muscat Canelli grapes have more flavor and sugar than Muscat Alexander.

Pinot Grigio:  Pinto Grigio also known as Pinot Gris has grayish-blue fruit but can also have a brownish pink, black, or even white appearance. The grapes grow in pinecone shaped clusters and wines produced from these grapes vary in color from light shades of pink to copper to a deep golden yellow. The grape grows best in cool climates, and matures relatively early with high sugar levels. This can lead to either a sweeter wine, or, if fermented to dryness, a wine high in alcohol.  If making wine from Pinot Grigio you should not crush the grapes but go directly to the press to avoid getting a pink color from the grapes.  Wines made from Pinot Grigio grapes can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Riesling:  Riesling is grown historically in Germany, France, Austria, and northern Italy. Riesling can be produced into dessert wines which can have high sugar content, high acid, with great flavor. Rieslings are also made into non-dessert wines that range from dry to sweet. Some have crisp lightness with detectable peach aromas. Riesling’s naturally high acidity and range of flavors make it suitable for extended aging.  Wines made from Riesling grapes can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Sauvignon Blanc:   The Sauvignon Blanc grape originated in the Bordeaux region of France and has a green skin. The grape can produce crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine with tropical fruit undertones.  This is a well liked varietal for home winemakers and wine made from Sauvignon Blanc can be bottled and consumed in 9 months.

Thompson Seedless: Thompson Seedless is the most widely planted white table grape grown in California and is primarily raised for raisin production. Thompson Seedless makes a light table wine and comes in 42 pound boxes.  It is often used as a filler grape to give more volume to white wines made from other white grape varietals.  Wines made with Thompson Seedless can be bottled and consumed in 6 months.

Viognier:  Viognier is believed to have been brought to the Rhone region of France by the Romans. The best Viognier wines are known for their powerful fruit and floral aromas. Viognier typically produces medium bodied wines with relatively high acid content. Wines made from Viognier can be bottled and consumed in 6 months while the it is fresh.

Blended Wines:


The Chianti Blend is a classic, long-established blend of wine grapes used in the wines of Tuscany most obviously those from Chianti.  The blend’s primary constituent is Tuscany’s favorite grape variety, Sangiovese.  This is accompanied by small quantities of lesser-known Tuscan grape varieties Canaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo and Mammolo. The typical wine made from this blend shows aromas of red fruits, violets, dried herbs and bitter cherries.

The Chianti blend has evolved over time, adapting to shifts in consumer preference and advances in vineyard technology. There was significant controversy when the Chianti appellation laws officially sanctioned the red Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot for use (up to 15 percent) in Chianti wines. Purists viewed this change with a mix of suspicion and regret, while others welcomed the dark-fruit aromas and depth of color the Bordeaux varieties bring to Chianti.

Chianti Blend

Prior to 2006, white-wine grapes (most often Trebbiano and Malvasia) were routinely used as part of the Chianti Blend. This is now forbidden in all Chianti wines except those made in the Colli Senesi hills, where they may still be used until 2015.

By law, modern-day Chianti wines must be made from at least 70 percent Sangiovese. For the region’s most prestigious wines (such as Chianti Classico) this minimum rises to 80 percent. A number of Chianti producers make wines exclusively from Sangiovese; a particularly interesting case is Agricola San Felice, which produces its Riserva from 100 percent Sangiovese and its Gran Selezione from a traditional Chianti Blend.  Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are often used in today’s Chianti blends.