Alicante Bouschet

While Alicante Bouschet is often simply called Alicante, that simplified name is also synonymous with Grenache. As far as red wine grape varieties go however, they are quite different. This is because Alicante Bouschet distinguishes itself with darkly coloured pulp that renders purple juice. This is unusual, even among red skinned grape varieties. Nevertheless, Grenache crossed with Petit Bouschet served as the parentage material for Alicante Bouschet. Alicante Bouschet is the only French crossing, or teinturier, that is of all Vitis Vinifera stock and thus the only teinturier to be officially sanctioned by the French government.

Alicante Bouschet was created for its robust and high yielding nature, between 1865 and 1885 by Henri Bouschet. This new crossing served to replace Aramon, the scourge of much of southern France, where it produced highly astringent yet pallid and insipid wines. Conversely, because of its deep red flesh, wine from Alicante Bouschet was about 15 times as red albeit, of a similar innocuousness.

Subsequently, Alicante Bouschet too declined in popularity toward the end of the 20th century. However it remains France's thirteenth most planted grape variety terms, with more than 5,680 hectares planted. These plantings are largely in the Languedoc-Roussillon, although they stretch into Provence and even the Charente, the land of Cognac.

Outside France, Alicante Bouschet is most widely cultivated in Spain where it is also known as Garnacha Tintorera. Here, there is more than 22,250 hectares. Alicante Bouschet is also ubiquitous in Almansa. Its influence stretches south into Portugal, particularly to Alentejo, where it is well suited to the arid climate.

Alicante is also grown in Corsica, Toscana, Calabria in southern Italy, former Yugoslavia, Israel, and North Africa; and there were still 740 hectares lingering in California as recently as 2002, where it is well matched to the hot Central Valley.

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