Favourite Vines - Alicante Bouschet

This is an excellent grape for the amateur to grow in England. It's a small, red grape; blue-black skins, compact bunches packed close together over the whole vine, rapid grower, and giving red juice of good flavour which gives a very palateable wine resembling that obtained from Merlot grapes; fruity but not heavy.

I was introduced to this grape by an elderly neighbour who used to grow it in Italy. It fruits equally well on a south wall or standing free in the garden. It has a tendency to over-crop, and it will set fruit from the normal flowering time right up to early August; the later blossom has to be taken off.

There seems to be very little trouble with mildew or other diseases, and the fruiting is prolific. I am told that this grape comes from the Champagne region, where it is used to make some of the sparkling red wines, but not champagne itself.

It has also been used in the past to make red grape concentrate, since the colour comes from the juice itself, not just the skins.

Here are some pictures of my own vines and grapes, which are growing well in the Midlands, UK.

I often have a few spare vines in pots; if you live nearby (Midlands,UK) you're welcome to send me an email and call in.

Unripe grapes, July 2006
unripe grapes

On a south wall, October 2004
on a south wall, october 2004

First harvest from a two-year-old vine, October 2004
first harvest, oct 2004

I use about 80lb of these grapes each year. 1st fermentations give about 8 gallons of wine; very dark, inky colour; clears rapidly. Additions of between 1.75 and 3lbs of sugar are needed per gallon, depending on the weather (darker years means less sugar in the grapes) and personal taste. 2nd fermentations give another 2-3 gallons, still with appreciable grape flavour and deep crimson colour. Everyone seems to like wine from this grape.

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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