Vin de France & Grape Varieties


Encyclopedia of French Grape Varieties

{ Rosé Wine }


Grolleau is a variety that comes from the region of Tours in France. According to published genetic analyses, it is a descendant of Gouais Blanc, which mutated to red. Its name comes from the word Grolle, which means “crow” in old French, giving us an idea of the color of the berries.

Grolleau's bouquet is often powerful and expressive, based essentially on notes of red fruit such as strawberry and raspberry, or white fruits, such as peach and apricot. Hints of pepper can also sometimes be enjoyed.

Wines produced
Grolleau produces light wines with little color and little alcohol. They are characterized by their liveliness, and are especially used to make rosés (or vins gris, literally “gray wines”) or sparkling wines. When yields are kept to a minimum, Grolleau can also be used to make smooth, fruity red wines.

Areas planted
Since 1998, the decrease in Grolleau production has come to a halt. Production increased from 1,000 hectares in 1968 to 2,400 hectares in 2006. Grolleau is planted exclusively on the banks of the Loire, between Tours and Angers, and is used only to produce rosé wines.

Budding and ripening
Grolleau is an early budding variety, as it buds 1 day before Chasselas, the benchmark. However, it reaches peak ripeness later, 2 weeks after Chasselas, making it a Period II variety.

Grolleau is a fertile grape variety that must be trellised and short-pruned to limit its yield, and this is all the more necessary as its young shoots are highly sensitive to the wind. It is only moderately vigorous, however.

Preferred soils
Grolleau does very well in both limestone and granitic soils alike. However, its behavior depends more on the level of water it receives, and thus on the structure of the soil, than on its origin. In shallow soils, yield is naturally limited, but the quality is better. Impaired soils or sludge give greater vigor and higher yield, resulting from a greater supply of water. These terroirs require appropriate wine growing practices to reduce both vigor and yield.

Ideal Climate
Grolleau is an Atlantic grape variety that grows well in cool areas with well-distributed rainfall. More susceptible to drought than the average variety, it fares well in the mild, mostly dry microclimate found along the central banks of the Loire. In the event of springtime frosts that destroy the primary buds, the secondary buds provide suitable production and are relatively fertile.

Susceptibility to disease and pests
Grolleau is susceptible to peduncular rot and dead arm disease.

Grolleau is used only to produce wine.

Distinctive features
Grolleau's shoots have red internodes. Its adult leaves are large, with three or five lobes, and have an open petiolar sinus. The lobes have large teeth with rectilinear sides. The tips of its young shoots have a dense coat of flat-lying hairs and the variety’s young leaves are yellow with bronze patches. The blade leaf is involute, bubbled and sometimes has a waffle-like pattern. Its underside has sparse flat-lying and upright hairs. Its clusters and berries are medium sized. The berries are round.

Clones marketed
The five approved Grolleau clones (specifically named Grolleau N) are numbers 226, 288, 364, 365 and 366. A conservatory including nearly 200 was set up near Angers in 1996.

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