PfW logo.

Search PfW
HOME > WINE 101 > VARIETY PROFILES > ALICANTE BOUSCHET
This FREE Wine Education Course Includes: Why Wine? | Wine & Health | Social History | Sensory User's Manual | Grape Growing | Wine Making | Varietal Profiles | Sparkling Wine Wine Information on Reading Labels, Selecting and Buying Wine, Serving and Storing, etc. Taste includes the compiled wine tasting notes from our monthly panel, as well as reports on public tasting events, wherever we attend them, and notices of recurring wine events in Central California. There is also a Food & Wine section with a few wine-friendly recipes. In Aftertaste, see if you agree with our opinions and editorials in Wrath, find our Reading List and pages of Links in Bacchanalia, to discover additional sources of wine information. Contact and sponsor information, short bios of the PfW tasting panel and the stories of PfW's formation and the web site genesis. Return to the starting point.

MORE WHITE PROFILES

Albariño
Aligoté
Arneis
Bourboulenc
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Clairette Blanche
Colombard
Fiano
Friulano
Furmint

Garganega
Gewürztraminer
Grenache Blanc
Grenache Gris
Grüner Veltliner
Kerner
Maccabéo
Marsanne
Melon
Morio-Muskat
Müller-Thurgau
Muscadelle
Muscat

Neuburger
Picpoul Blanc

Pinot Blanc
Pinot Gris
Riesling
Rousanne
Sauvignon Blanc
Scheurebe
Semillon
Steen
Terret Blanc
Terret Gris
Torrontes
Ugni Blanc/Trebbiano
Verdelho
Verdicchio
Vernaccia

Viognier

 

 

Alicante Bouschet

Alicante Bouschet cluster.No matter what color their skins, the great majority of wine grapes have clear juice. Very few have dark colored juice; the French call these types teinturier, literally "dyers". One of the most famous and widely-planted is a wine grape cross, Alicante Bouschet, created by French father and son vine breeders.

For centuries, until the 1960s, Aramon was the most widely planted grape in France1. Growers liked it for two reasons. Foremost is its high productivity, over 20 tons per acre in fertile soils. Second, it is one of the few vinifera varieties with natural resistance to powdery mildew. The wine produced from this grape, however, is extremely light in color, flavor, and alcohol, and it always requires blending to boost these factors.

In 1824, Louis Bouschet, attempting to improve its color and flavor yet retain its mildew resistance, crossed Aramon with an ancient red-juiced vinifera variety, Teinturier du Cher. He named the result Petit Bouschet2. In 1865, Louis' son Henri continued his on father's path, crossing Petit Bouschet with Grenache to create Alicante Bouschet.

Alicante, as it is often called, became important as a blending grape, particularly in vintages where additional color is needed, and was widely planted all over France. As much as 150,000 acres were producing throughout the country in the mid-1980s and today is the 12th most widely-planted grape in France.

Alicante Bouschet is a very productive grape that can bear crops as large as 12 tons per acre and must be controlled from its tendency to over crop. In addition to red flesh and juice, it has thick and tough skins. The grape's acidity can be problematic, too high in cooler regions, too low in warmer ones.

These qualities led to high popularity during American Prohibition, since the fruit shipped well and Alicante's intense color could stand dilution and extension with water and sugar to make more than double the normal wine gallonage per ton of grapes. Plantings in California reached nearly 30,000 acres by the 1940s, but have since declined to less than 5,000 acres.

Primarily used as a blending grape where color and tannin are needed, only a very few California wineries have offered Alicante Bouschet as a varietal. On its own, Alicante Bouschet generally makes wine that lacks distinction in character and has texture that is somewhat coarse. Although color is its main asset, it is also unstable, browning and precipitating easily.

*Typical Alicante Bouschet Smell and/or Flavor Descriptors
*Typicity depends upon individual tasting ability and experience and is also affected by terroir and seasonal conditions, as well as viticultural and enological techniques. This list therefore is merely suggestive and neither comprehensive nor exclusive.

Varietal Aromas/Flavors:

Processing Bouquets/Flavors:

Fruit:

Oak (light):

Floral:

Oak (heavy):

Herbal: Spice:

Vegetal:

Bottle Age:

(Too few tasting notes could be found on Alicante Bouschet to list or summarize typicity...)

One California winery, Angelo Papagni, of Madera, had the unique distinction of successfully producing a string of award-winning and long-lived varietal wines from Alicante Bouschet, in the 1970s.

Jim LaMar


NOTES
1. Carignane became France's most planted wine grape in the 1960's. RETURN

2. Petit Bouschet was moderately successful through the end of the 19th Century and remains planted in North Africa and Portugal. RETURN


RESOURCES
1. Charles Sullivan, A Companion to California Wine: An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present (University of California Press: Berkeley) 1998

2. L. Peter Christensen, Nick K. Dokoozlian, M. Andrew Walker, James A Wolpert, et all. Wine Grape Varieties in California (University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources Publications: Oakland) 2003

3. Benjamin Lewin, Wine Myths and Reality, (Vendage Press: Dover, DE) 2010

4. Jancis Robinson (ed), Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition, (Oxford University Press: London) 2006

5. Jancis Robinson (ed), Jancis Robinson's Guide to Wine Grapes, (Oxford University Press: New York) 1996

6. Steven Spurrier & Michel Dovaz, Academie du Vin, Complete Wine Course (G.P. Putnam & Sons, New York) 1983

 

MORE RED PROFILES

Alicante Bouschet
Aramon
Barbera
Black Corinth
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Carignan
Carmenère
Carnelian
Charbono
Cinsault
Corvina
Counoise
Duriff
Gamay Noir
Grenache
Grignolino
Gros Verdot
Malbec
Merlot
Meunier
Mission
Mourvédre/Mataro

Muscardin

Negrette
Nebbiolo
Petit Verdot
Petite Sirah
Picpoul
Pinot Noir
Pinot Meunier
Pinot St. George
Pinotage
Primitivo
Rubired
Ruby Cabernet
St. Laurent
Sangiovese
Souzão
Syrah/Shiraz

Tannat
Tempranillo
Terret Noir
Tinta Barroca
Tinta Cão
Tinta Negra Mole
Vaccarese/Camarese
Valdepeñas
Valdiguié

Zinfandel

 

arrow back. arrow up.

arrow forward.


Page Created April 7, 2002; Last Updated August 7, 2014
Except as noted, all content, including design, text and images, is property of the site owner.
No part may be reproduced or used in any form without prior documented consent.
All rights reserved under the DMCA of 1998. © 1999-2011 by Jim LaMar.