image from Cephas Picture Library

Here is a wine that is on my "to drink" list. I can't tell you anything from personal experience but hope to be able to soon. I'm keeping an eye out for it but what I do know is that this grape is unusual in that it is one of the very, very few that actually produce red juice. The overwhelming majority of grapes, regardless of the colour of their skin, produce juice of roughly the same indistinct colour, a pale yellowish green.

For this reason, the originally French Alicante or more correctly Alicante Bouschet (in Portugal) or Garnacha Tintorera (in Spain), was prized in the past, mainly for the deep, dark colour of its juice which enabled winemakers to dilute and therefore stretch their wine yields, without the wine appearing "thin" or "light". This grape is also well known for its incredibly high yield. This was especially desirable during America's Prohibition period, when alcohol was outlawed and therefore, hard to come by. Under such circumstances, the Alicante Bouchet grape translated into a very tidy profit for Californian winemakers. It was also commonly used to darken other wines that lacked colour.

Because of its inglorious past as a mainly blending and darkening wine, it has gained a reputation as a workhorse grape, rather than one that is worthy of being made into a varietal wine. However, well made specimens are said to fruity, subtly spicy, with the warm sweetness of vanilla and hints of leather. It has aging potential but remains approachable because of its generous but supple tannins. All of which sounds to me, like a wine I could easily appreciate. Can't wait.