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Some varieties — and some blends — are vinous aristocracy. In the days before the New World, and craft and geek invasions, there was a kind of pecking order that would have met the approval of the ancient regime. The uncontroversial candidates would have been the Bordeaux varieties and, of course, the Bordeaux blends (red and white), syrah, pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling and possibly grenache, chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc. They are mostly regarded as “noble” or “premium” varieties and their names still lend credibility and prestige to any wine sold in traditional markets.

Then there are the Cinderella varieties, styles and blends — down on their luck and perhaps making a comeback. Finally, there are those that fit largely in the ugly sisters’ camp. The Cinderella varieties or blends are often country specific: in the Cape, chenin blanc met its Prince Charming and has been welcomed back into high society. That’s not the case in Australia or the US. Grenache too has been r...

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