Your Wine IQ

Trebbiano


International Varieties: Chardonnay   Gewürztraminer   Muscat   Pinot Gris   Riesling   Sauvignon Blanc

Major Varieties:   Airén    Chenin Blanc    Grüner Veltliner    Müller-Thurgau    Pinot Blanc    Sémillon    Silvaner    Trebbiano    Viognier

Regional Varieties:   Albariño    Aligoté    Amigne    Arneis    Chasselas    Colombard    Cortese    Fiano    Grechetto    Grenache Blanc    Malvasia Istriana    Marsanne    Muscadelle    Muscat of Alexandria    Ortega    Palomino    Parellada    Petite Arvine    Prosecco    Rieslaner    Roussanne    Savagnin    Scheurebe    Seyval Blanc    Tocai Friulano    Torrontés    Vermentino    Welschriesling


Trebbiano grapes

Trebbiano grapes showing their distinctive pale color and high yields.
This photo is in the public domain.

Known as Ugni Blanc in France, Trebbiano is the primary grape used in the production of Cognac. Yellow and high-yielding, the grape is very unusual in many ways. The high acidity and oftentimes bland taste react well to a good distillation, and the world's best Cognacs are often created from Trebbiano. In fact, Ugni Blanc is one of the few grapes allowed to be turned into Cognac; the others are Folle Blanche and Colombard. Other uses for Trebbiano include the brandy Armagnac and the unusual sweet áperitif Floc de Gascogne.

The grape's wild success with Cognac has caused it to be the second most widely planted grape in the world. Knockoffs of Cognac the world over generally use this grape, so it must be considered among our major varieties. The qualities of Trebbiano that give so much to Cognac, however, have much the opposite effect in wine production. The extremely poor reputation of Trebbiano wine follows it nearly everywhere it is grown: Australia, South America, Portugal, and the US have had little success with this grape. Any French attempts are overshadowed by the excessive Cognac production there. As a result, Trebbiano is usually blended and/or made into a table wine.

Italy has some remarkable Trebbiano wines and may be the leading country for non-liquor Trebbiano production. Due to this, the Italian name for the grape is used in the wine world, rather than the French Ugni Blanc. There are a few Trebbiano DOCs, such as Trebbiano d'Abruzzo and Trebbiano Val Trebbia in Colli Piacentini. Some of these wines can be quite fragrant. Also, a clone of Trebbiano is used along with Grechetto in the often flavorful wines of Orvieto DOC.