Airén is a variety of Vitis vinifera, a white grape commonly used in winemaking. This grape is native to Spain where it represents about 30% of all grapes grown. As of 2010, Airén was estimated to be the world's 3rd most grown grape variety in terms of planted surface, at 252,000 hectares (620,000 acres), down from 306,000 hectares (760,000 acres) in 2004, where it held 1st place, although it is almost exclusively found in Spain. Since Airén tends to be planted at a low density, several other varieties (including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) are more planted in terms of number of vines. Plantations of Airén are declining as it is being replaced in Spanish vineyards with various red varieties, such as Tempranillo.

Airén is also known by the following other names:

The grapes have a cotton-like bud burst, which is bronze or yellowish in colour, with light reddish edge, and not very intense at the tip. The grapes have a trailing growing habit. The leaves of the Airén are average in size and have a pentagonal shape. The lower lateral sinuses are less marked than the upper ones and the upper face of the leaf is yellowish green in color while the lower face is velvety. The grape bunch is large in size and has an average compactness. It can grow in two different shapes: cylindrical or as a long cone. The grapes are large and spherical and have a yellowish color. The grapes are late to bud burst and also late to ripen. They yield about 4.5 to 6 kg per vine. Further, this grape is very resistant to drought and the base buds are fertile and thus resists very short pruning and still have acceptable yields.

By coincidence, the word Airen (哀憐) in Japanese means compassion; in Chinese (爱人) it means lover.

The first recorded mention of Airén was in 1615. In the 15th century it was known as Lairén (as it is in the Córdoba region today) and is cited as such in Gabriel Alonso de Herrera’s “Agricultura General”. This author however preferred to call it “Datileña” because the grapes were bunched together like dates. He confesses to not having tasted the wine but states that “it is not very strong nor does it have much body” and also that “it would be better to make raisins from these grapes as they are very shapely and abundant”.

In 1807, Roxas Clemente describes two types of Layrén: the first is the one we know today as the modern Airén from La Mancha and second is a table grape as described by Herrera as the Datileña. The first reference by Roxas Clemente mentions that Airén is also known as Mantúo Laerén and Laerén de Rey. He describes this variety as follows:

This page was last edited on 8 November 2017, at 16:32.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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