Alicante Bouschet

In the late 1800’s,

John Reynolds contacted the La Calmette nursery near Montpelier looking to tap into the ground-breaking viticultural innovations underway in Southern France at that time, for it was “the Midi, not Bordeaux or Burgundy …where the greatest technical progress in wine making took place in the nineteenth century” (Rosemary George, MW).
In the early 1870’s, Charles Darwin paid tribute to Henri Bouschet’s lifetime achievements. Pierre Viala’s review of his work was published in 1886.
Generations of hearsay spoke of two professors from Montpellier bearing the same surname – possibly brothers – visiting Mouchão around this time, bringing cuttings of this new inky variety with them.
These may have been planted whilst Mouchão was still being leased, long before being purchased (sometime between 1872 and 1894). Despite having focussed on cork for half a century, William Reynolds’s role as President of the National Phylloxera Commission in 1882, showed the Reynolds family still maintained strong ties in Portuguese viticulture around that time.
Mouchão may also have been a source of the wines “from Estremoz” – the nearest town to Mouchão – or “superior claret (Estremery)”, as advertised extensively in the New Zealand press from 1878-82, by his father Thomas W. Reynolds, a resident in Dunedin since 1857.
New Zealand Tribune, 26th June, 1880
Henri Bouschet first touted his new teinturière as early as 1855, and it is thought the Dourada vineyard shown in the 1894 map (see above), already included Alicante Bouschet.
1894 Map
The earliest consensual recollections have faded with time, but Bouncer – and his many cousins – talked of “Aunt Isabel” (John Reynolds’ wife) in the late 1800’s, travelling from her home at Quinta do Carmo in Estremoz to visit ‘her favourite black grapes’ at Mouchão.
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