The white grape variety originates from the border region France/Spain. Synonyms grouped alphabetically by country are Clare Riesling, Sales Blanc(Australia); Basque, Cougnet, Crouchen Blanc, Cruchen Blanc, Cruchenton Blanc, Grand Blanc, Messange Blanc, Messanges Blanc, Navarre Blanc, Sable Blanc, Trouchet Blanc(France); Crochenta, Cruchenta, Hondarribi Zuri, Zurizerratia (Spain); Cape Riesling, Groenblaarsteen, Kaapse Riesling, Paarl Riesling, Riesling Vert, S. A. Riesling, South African Riesling(South Africa). Although it appears to have synonyms or morphological similarities, it must not be confused with the varieties Courbu Blanc, Noah, Riesling or Sémillon. She was a cross-breeding partner of the two new varieties Nouvelle and Therona Riesling and a parent of the presumably natural crosses Cabernet Goudable and Claverie Coulard. However, the parentage (parenthood) is unknown.
It is most likely that the vine originated in the French Pyrenees near the Spanish border, where it was first mentioned in 1783. The onomatopoeic name derives from the crunchy character of the berry skins. The medium ripening vine is very susceptible to powdery mildew. It produces neutral white wines with ageing potential. It is also used as a table grape. In France the vine is almost extinct and in 2010 it occupied less than one hectare. In the Spanish Basque Country (País Vasco) it is grown with the varieties Courbu Blanc and Noah and all three are called Hondarribi Zuri (see in detail under Hondarribi Beltza).
The variety arrived in Australia around 1850 under the name Sales Blanc, where it was widely grown in the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley. For a long time it was confused with the Sémillon variety. Since it was mistakenly called Riesling, it was named Clare Riesling after the Clare Valley. It was not until 1976 that its true identity was clarified by the French ampelographer Paul Truel (1924-2014). In the Clare Valley it has since been replaced by the real Riesling. Today it is mainly grown in the Murray Darling and Swanhill (New South Wales), as well as Riverland (South Australia), where it occupies 95 hectares of vineyards.
Crouchen came to South Africa under the name Groenblaarsteen (Green Leaf Steen) as early as 1656 and was known here as Cape Riesling, Paarl Riesling and South African Riesling. The real Riesling followed shortly afterwards in 1664, and it was not until the 1950s that Christiaan Johannes Orffer (1926-2008) discovered that various varieties were cultivated in South Africa under the name Riesling. Since the 2009 vintage, the designation Riesling may no longer be used for crouchen in the domestic market. The variety is mainly grown in the two areas Breedekloof and Paarl. The South African stocks amount to 629 hectares. In 2010, 725 hectares of vineyards were designated (Kym Anderson).
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Pictures: Pl@ntGrape, INRA/IFV/Montpellier SupAgro 2009-2011