Airen is a white varietal grape of Vitis vinifera vine, which is a native Spanish grape vine and is used in the making of Airen wine. Airen varietals comprise 30 percent of the total grape vines in Spain. Since this varietal is cultivated at a low density, many other varietals like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are cultivated more in concern to the population of vines. Over the years, the airen plantations have been going through a declining phase in the Spanish vineyards as these are being replaced by different red varietals like Tempranillo. These grapes are light skinned and are typically used in the production of standard dry white table wines, which are inexpensive and are not quite known for their flavor. Besides airen wine production, the grapes are also used in brandy production. These grapes bear a cottony bud burst which is generally yellowish or bronze in color, with tips that are not so intense and light reddish edge. These varietals are large sized and can grow in long conical or cylindrical shapes. Airen grapes are also known by other names in different regions of Spain like Manchega and Aidén in Albacete, Forcayat in Catalonia, Valdepeñas or Valdepeñera in Ciudad Real and Lairén in Cordoba. Some of the better known varieties of airen wine are Sierra Morena Palido Fino Seco, Oroya White 2007, Oroya 2007, Castillo de Andaluz Airen Sauvignon, Protocolo White 2009, Aresan Airen la Tierra de Castilla Bodegas 2005 and Lagar Alto Airén 2007.
Origin of the Airen Wine and Related Information
As far as recorded history goes, airen varietals find their first mention in the year 1615. During the 15th century, these varietals were called “Lairen,” which is still called so in the Cordoba region of Spain to this day. The varietal finds an exclusive mention in the account “Agricultura General” written by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera, who called these grapes “Datileña,” as these grow bunched like dates. While in his book, the author does confess of not having tasted the airen wine, he also states the grapes not having a strong flavor like their bodies, and that these varietals are better suited for making raisins owing to their shapeliness and abundance. In 1807, the airen varietal was called Layren, whose two types were described by Roxas Clemente, one of which is the modern Airen grown in La Mancha, while the other as a table grape as described by Herrera. García de los Salmones in the year 1914, mentioned these varietals as being cultivated as Lairen in Madrid, Villacañas in Toledo, Campo de Criptana in Ciudad Real, Tarancón in Cuenca, Frejenal de la Sierra in Badajoz, Baeza in Jaén), Fiñana in Almería, Montefrío in Granada, Coin in Málaga, Cazalla de la Sierra in Sevilla, Espera in Cadiz and Cordoba. Only in Albacete was this varietal cultivated as Airen. In the year 1954, the Airen varietal was described as a typical vine from La Mancha. In the following years, 1965 and 1976, the varietals were vividly described as Mantúo Laerén by Fernández de Bobadilla and as Airén by Hidalgo, respectively.
Regions Producing Airen Wine
Airen grapes are most abundantly cultivated in the regions La Mancha DO and Valdepeñas, shortly followed by the Toledo and Ciudad Real provinces. In Cuenca and Albacete, the varietals are cultivated comparatively less. A significant population of airen vineyards can also be found in Madrid and Montilla-Moriles. Apart from these places, viticulture of these varietals is also allowed in Jumilla DO, Bullas DO and Alicante DO. These vines are grown with low density at 1500 vines every hectare as these vineyards grow into covering vast areas.
In the year 2004, the airen grapes were said to be the most grown varietal in the world in terms of the cultivated region comprised by the grapes which was 306,000 hectares, even though these varietals are exclusively grown in Spain.
In Japanese culture, the word “Airen” stands for Soulmate or Perfect Love and in Chinese, the word means lover.