Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Grapeleaf

In Australia, the main grape varieties grown for wine are from the single European species Vitis vinifera. This species is different from American wine grapes which are made up of 20 species but predominantly Vitis labrusca (eg. Concord and Isabelle), V.riparia, V.rupestris and V.berlandiera
The leaves of grapevines are basically made up of the blade and petiole or leaf stalk. They have five main nerves that originate at the petiole and contribute to the different leaf shapes.
The leaf shape of the various varieties of V.vinifera (eg. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon etc.) is a common characteristic used in vine identification or the science of ampelography.

Grapeleaf Components
Leaves can vary in the following ways:
number and shape of lobes.
shape and depth of inferior and superior sinuses.
shape of petiolar sinus.
shape of teeth.
amount and type of hair, generally on the underside.
In our case, it is interesting to look at the leaf shapes of the vines grown here and to see how really different they are.
Cabernet Sauvignon has medium sized deeply 5-lobed leaves with the petiolar sinus cut right into the veins at the base. The leaves are glossy green above and have scattered tufts of hair on the lower surface.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Chardonnay leaves are medium sized, thick, undulating and rolling back a little at the edges. They are usually only slightly 3-lobed and practically hair free on the lower surface. The petiolar sinus is lyre shaped and cut right into the veins at the base.

Semillon has a rough undulating 3- to 5-lobed leaf with a few tufted hairs on the lower surface.

Pinot Noir leaves are small to medium size and usually almost entire. They are rough and tend to fold inwards about the midrib and have a few tufts of hair on the lower surface.

Pinot Noir
Tempranillo has large thick 5-lobed leaves with tufted hairs on the lower surface and a closed petiolar sinus with overlapping edges. They often have a pale limp appearance as they expand to full size.