Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Airén is planted at such a low vine density in its central Spanish homeland that it is planted on almost a quarter of all Spanish vineyard and covers more area than any other white wine variety in the world. Its 2011 total of 218,439 ha/539,544 acres is dramatically reduced from its 2004 total of 305,000 ha/753,350 acres, however, thanks to vigorous vine pull schemes, particularly in La mancha and valdepeñas where it has traditionally been blended with dark-skinned Cencibel (tempranillo) grapes, which are steadily replacing Airén, to produce light red wines. It is increasingly vinified as an inexpensive white wine, however, to yield crisp, neutral dry white wines for early consumption. In several ways, therefore, Airén is the Spanish equivalent of France’s ugni blanc. Airén vines are trained into low bushes and have remarkable resistance to the droughts which plague central Spanish viticulture. The variety is also grown around madrid.