Thursday, June 01, 2006

The world's most planted grape variety

What is the world's most planted grape variety? If you read the June issue of Decanter Magazine, you may know the answer.

It is not Merlot, France's most planted varietal (more than 100,000 hectares/247,105 acres planted in Bordeaux, South-West and Languedoc), although it comes in second place (sorry Miles) with 262,151 hectares/647,789 acres planted worldwide.

It is not Sangiovese, Italy's most popular red grape with over 250,000 hectares/617,763 acres under vine, nor Chardonnay, California's leading varietal with 37,810 hectares/93,431 acres planted.

The answer is far from being obvious. It is Airén with 306,058 hectares/756,285 acres planted worldwide, mostly in Spain.

Airén is easy to grow, produces high yields and is extremely drought resistant. It is planted throughout the semi-arid plateau of central Spain, particularly in the regions of La Mancha and Valdepeñas. Traditionally, it is used as a base wine for Brandy. In Valdepeñas, it is often blended with Tempranillo to create Clarete, a fruity red wine, light in color and flavor. With improved vinification, Airén can produce light, refreshing dry wines, although somewhat neutral.

As for me, I'll stick to Merlot.

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