When a viticulture book is consulted, especially an old one, that deals with the number of vine varieties cultivated in a given territory, the high number of them that are cited is surprising. However, these figures, in most cases, are lower when a scientific study supports them.

Some books mention that in Spain there are around 3000 different varieties , the result, in most cases, of the more than 3000 names that can be found. However, several factors must be taken into account that make a variety appear multiple times in that supposed list. First of all the numerous synonymsthat a cultivar can present. Some widely known vine varieties, such as Tinto Fino and Tempranillo, but when the synonymy is not known, it can lead to the error of being considered a new variety, as can happen with Tintilla de Rota, grown in Andalusia, which after morphological and biochemical studies and molecular has been proven to be synonymy of Graciano, so cultivated in La Rioja. On other occasions, it is the differences themselves (morphological or agronomic behavior) between clones that lead to the confusion of considering them as different varieties, as is the case with Listán Negro, grown in Tenerife, and one of its clones, known as Forastero Negro, which only after a scientific study it is found that it is the same variety.

On the other hand, a widely cultivated and well-known variety in one territory can be a practically unknown vine in another, where its cultivation is almost testimonial, and two different cultivars are considered. This happens with Airén when it is grown in the Canary Islands (called Burrablanca). In the Peninsula it is a well-known and widespread variety, however, in the Canary Islands, it is found occasionally in some vineyards. This situation of ignorance leads to think that it is a different variety.

It is true that, if there is a good practice for the conservation of vine varieties, there will be an increasing number of them, since new cultivars are emerging . In table grapes it is common to carry out new crosses looking for interesting qualities (aided by molecular biology, since most of the genes involved in them are known), such as the absence of seeds, the muscat flavor or the grape color. In wine grapes, it is nature that is responsible for making the spontaneous crosses , however, as this is not directed, the result of a new variety, in addition to being very long in time, may not be interesting. On the other hand, certain spontaneous mutationsWithin a plant, they can generate a new variety, being then the hand of man in charge of multiplying it until it becomes another variety, as has happened with the White Tempranillo from La Rioja.

Possibly the most complete book published in Spain, backed by years of research in the characterization and identification of grape varieties, is “Vine varieties in Spain” . In it there are practically all the varieties that are grown in our country (table, winemaking and rootstocks); its morphological, molecular, agronomic and oenological characteristics; the registered synonyms and homonyms, and the places where they are known under a certain name, and it is a good tool to clarify any doubts that may arise in this regard.

Dr. Sofia Seccombe

My name is Dr. Sofia Seccombe, and in this small section, I want to tell you who I am and why I started this project. I don't want to bore you, but I consider that it is an important part of godlywine. It serves as an exercise in transparency so that the person who reads the articles can be sure that the information is reliable.

Leave a Reply