Organic Alicante Bouschet
Alicante Bouschet or Alicante Henri Bouschet is a wine grape variety that has been widely cultivated since 1866. It is a cross of Petit Bouschet (itself a cross of the very old variety Teinturier du Cher and Aramon) and Grenache. Alicante is a teinturier, a grape with red flesh. It is one of the few teinturier grapes that belong to the Vitis vinifera species. Its deep color makes it useful for blending with light red wine. It was planted heavily during Prohibition in California for export to the East Coast. Its thick skin made it resistant to rot during the transportation process. The intense red color was also helpful for stretching the wine during prohibition, as it could be diluted without detracting from the appearance. At the turn of the 21st century, Alicante Bouschet was the 12th most planted red wine grape in France with sizable plantings in the Languedoc, Provence and Cognac regions. In 1958, Alicante Bouschet covered 24,168 hectares (mainly across southern France); by 2011, plantings represented less than 4,000 hectares. This scenario is largely reversed in other regions of Europe, and in southern Portugal in particular.
In some areas of France the grape is now extinct. According to international wine guru and Master of Wine, Jancis Robinson, Alicante Bouschet is thought to have found its true home in Portugal’s Alentejo where it was first planted at Herdade do Mouchão in the 1890s. Widely planted across the Alentejo wine region today (having grown exponentially in popularity from the late 1990s) it is frequently expensive, surpassing the quality and personality of other noble varieties. These top-end wines are prized for their ‘size’, dense colour and phenolic content.