Weekly Wine Quiz #96: Grape Trivia – Alicante Bouschet
The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…
Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!
We are continuing our grape trivia series, still focusing on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Alicante Bouschet, or Alicante Henri Bouschet, if we want to use the full and official name.
How many of you ever heard of Alicante Bouschet, let alone tasted the wines made from that grape? How about Garnacha Tintorera? Still nada? Yes, I know – at this point, I’m reaching into the obscure grapes territory, the dark side of the wine world. But this grape, Alicante Bouschet, is so unique and different, in its past and present, that I can’t pass an opportunity to learn about it together with you.
Alicante Bouschet grape was created in 1866 by Henri Bouschet as a cross between Petit Bouschet and Grenache. To make things a bit more interesting, it is worth noting that Petit Bouschet was created by Louis Bouschet, the father of Henri Bouschet, this time as a cross between two ancient varietals, Teinturier du Cher and Aramon. Talking about unique – Alicante Bouschet is one of the very few red grapes in the world which are classified as teinturier – the grape which makes the juice of red color. Take any of the well known red grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, most anything – and break it apart. The juice which will be coming out will be clear. It is the skin which gives the color to majority of the red wines. When it comes to Alicante Bouschet (and other teinturier grapes, which are very few), the juice will be coming out as red.
After being created in 1866, Alicante Bouschet somewhat rapidly spread out all over the world. It was used in France to replant vineyards after the phylloxera devastation. It made it to Portugal and Spain, where it is known under the name of Garnacha Tintorera, and continued its successful journey further into Italy, Australia, Chile, United States and the number of other countries.
Alicante Bouschet is known to produce not even large, but rather huge crop. It is also an early ripening grape, which creates somewhat of a problem, as it doesn’t accumulate enough flavor depth and enough sugar to make it into the single-varietal wine. As the result, it is often used as part of the blend just with the purpose of adding the color (and the color it got!). Another important characteristic of the grape is a very thick skin, which helps it to withstand the long distance transportation. This quality of Alicante Bouschet made it extremely popular grape during prohibition times in the US, as it could sustain the long railroad voyage from west coast to the east. In addition to handling the long distance transportation quite well, Alicante Bouschet think skin and juicy flesh was allowing for it to be pressed three times (most of the common grapes will allow for one, or an absolute maximum of two pressings), thus one could get more decently colored wine from much lesser amount of grapes.
Today, the plantings of Alicante Bouschet decreased in the countries like France and United States, where it is used mostly for blending. However, the grape is increasingly popular in Portugal, where it makes wonderful concentrated wines in the Alentejo region. Southern Spain also has very substantial plantings of Garnacha Tintorera, and with controlled yield produces outstanding single-varietal wines.
And now, to the quiz!
Q1: True or False: according to the 2010 data, Alicante Bouschet is one of the 15 most planted red grapes in the world?
Q2: Wine Spectator calls wines with 90-94 ratings “Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style”. True or False: There are no Alicante Bouschet-based wines rated as Outstanding by Wine Spectator.
Q3: Alicante Bouschet makes a very popular addition (albeit in miniscule quantities, about 5% or less) to some of the very well known and popular California varietal wines. Can you name two of those popular California grape varieties?
Q4: Below is the list of countries growing Alicante Bouschet/ Garnacha Tintorera. Based on 2010 data, sort that list from the biggest area plantings to the smallest:
Q5: Which one doesn’t belong and why?
b. Francis Ford Coppola
Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!