I am sure most of you have heard the term fruit-forward used when talking about a wine. What does this mean? And what kind of wines are fruit-forward? Fruit-forward (or fruit-driven) is essentially a style term. Fruit forward wines are fruity and jam-packed with primary fruit flavors that prevail over anything else in the wine. In a fruit-forward wine, this fruitiness is very much to the fore - with the flavor emphasis toward the front of your palate. You taste the fruitiness right upfront and these fruit flavors drive the overall taste of the wine.
Fruit forward wines are primarily about the grape / varietal expression, over the expression of either place (i.e. terroir) or winemaking practices such as the use of oak, lees contact or managed oxidation.
The use of very-ripe grapes, stainless steel fermentation vats, cooler fermentation temperatures, aromatic yeast strains, protective handling and winemaking as well as early bottling all contribute to enhancing the fruit-forwardness of a wine.
Traditionally the fruit forward wine style was applied to wines produced in the New World, countries such as The United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina. However, the boundaries are more blurred today, as many old world wines are made in a fruit-forward style, and an increasing number of New World wines are aiming for an expression of place.
Some people believe that fruit-forward wines are simple, easy-drinking, one-dimensional and lacking in layers or nuances of complexity. At the value end of the market, this is primarily true but that is not to say these wines are bad. Cheap and cheerful, simple fruit-driven wines can be delicious, especially chilled, on a warm summer's evening. Not every situation demands a complex, terroir driven wine!
Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.
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• Wine Words: Variety vs. Varietal
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