When even a (non-French) winemaker asks me what I mean by ‘agrumes’ in my tasting notes, then I realise that I’m using a ‘too Frenchie’ term in an Anglo-Saxon context, and I need to explain. I’ve added the following to my ‘Technical Glossary‘ page:

Agrume is the type of fruit that can range from orange to grapefruit – and everything in-between.* An agrume desert is normally a mix of orange, mandarin, grapefruit et-cetera. Agrume reduction or ‘noble reduction‘ (as is the current phrase-du-jour) is the Roulot style of white wine reduction that (everyone is trying to mimic today) has a grapefruit-style aromatic and even flavour, yet is (technically) closely associated with a modest reduction.
*Agrume fruits: Bergamot, Bigarade, Calamondin, Chedrat, Citrandarin, Citrange, Citrumelo, Clementine, Clemenvilla, Combava, Grapefruit, Kumquat, Lemon, Lime, Limette, Mandarin, Orange, Pomelo, Tangelo, Tangerine, Tangor, Ugli, Yuzu

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 3 responses to “agrumes?”

  1. Nick Martin23rd December 2016 at 11:33 amPermalinkReply

    Totally agree. And many of the notes above of course are found in red burgundy, even as they age. I seem to taste argume in much red burgundy these days – is it just me?

  2. Gilberto23rd December 2016 at 12:44 pmPermalinkReply

    And the English word is citrus, no?
    This can be found not only in whites, but sometimes also in reds in blood oranges taste and smell.
    A lovely aroma for me.

    • billn25th December 2016 at 1:09 pmPermalinkReply

      Hi Gilberto,
      I would say yes – and no! In English, if you were to speak of citrus, more often than not, people would assume that you’re talking about lemon or lime – a smaller amount of people might include or think of orange, and very few indeed would automatically think of grapefruit.

      So my notes when talking about citrus are more likely to be discussing lemon/lime, and usually I’ll say yellow or green citrus. Orange is something separate, and apart from a few great ‘mandarin’ aromas/flavours that I found in great 2015 whites, orange is more often a note in reds for me – particularly older reds.

      When I talk about a ‘reductive agrume’ it’s not a pure grapefruit, more a blend with other citrus fruits, but more often than not it majors in grapefruit – which is certainly much nicer than the older pineapple vinifications.


      • Gilberto27th December 2016 at 2:01 pmPermalinkReply

        Hi Bill!

        Oh, interesting! I assumed that the definition found, for example, in the Oxford dictionary:
        “A tree of a genus that includes citron, lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. Native to Asia, citrus trees are cultivated in warm countries for their fruit.”
        was correct, but apparently is perceived in a different way by English speakers…

        Blood oranges I sometimes find in young Burgundies too, for example in some Fourrier wines.

        • billn27th December 2016 at 2:15 pmPermalink

          I think, Gilberto, you are completely, technically, correct, yet it is also about familiarity – ‘citrus’ is really about what fruit(s) you bring to mind or rather have experience of. Given the difference between tangerines and lemons and grapefruits, I think if you ‘see’ one of those things in a wine, I think that you should say which one, not simply say citrus. I tend to use the term citrus if something is lemon/lime, though I usually still say ‘green-citrus’ or ‘yellow-citrus’ where I can separate the two.

          Grapefruit seems rather commonly transposed with ‘agrumes’ in tasting ‘circles’ though I personally think of agrume as a blend of citrus fruits – but always containing grapefruit.

          I never really analyzed my usage of the term before – but am enjoying doing so!

  3. Craig Williams23rd December 2016 at 4:07 pmPermalinkReply

    I, like Nick, am experiencing more grapefruit reduction in red Burgundy. This grapefruit mercaptan or thioterpineol does not blow off with aeration and is becoming an all too common experience and a big disappointment. While I agree there’s such a thing as noble reduction, this particular aroma in red Burgundy is, for me, ignoble.

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