Sucessful trials of Scarlotta red grapes in Spain

Getting really great quality red grape in October has been a challenge for as long
as many buyers can remember. In recent years, the UK market has relied on the season for Spanish‐grown Crimson grapes to continue as far into October as possible, whilst waiting for the first of the Brazilian exports to begin.

The trouble with Crimson is that the variety can struggle to reach the depth
of colour so sought after by the retail buyers. As the Spanish temperatures have soared this year, the night‐time temperatures have held too high for the fruit to colour. The Spanish Crimson crop is looking distinctly pink. When consumers and
retail buyers are shopping for red varieties then deep colour comes high up on the priority list.

Rupert Maude, Commercial Director for the progressive Spanish grower El Ciruelo, knows the importance of continuing innovation and development work. “We spend a lot of time with grape breeders, identifying opportunities and evaluating trials. We strive for continuing improvement to our commercial offer, and we listen carefully to our market. At any one time we are trialling many new varieties in different territories and with a range of growing protocols.” The success of El Ciruelo in this area has led to a strong relationship with US grape breeding specialists, Sunworld. Seizing on fresh opportunities has led to El Ciruelo trialling the Sunworld red grape variety, Scarlotta.

José Francisco Velasco is the man at the head of El Ciruelo who has taken the
decision to plant over 100 hectares of his land with vines of this new variety.
The oldest plantings are now 3 years old and in full commercial production. Andrew Sharp (Technical Director of Fresca Group) paid a visit to the Murcia region of Spain with Sarah Blanford, Technical Manager for UK retailer Sainsbury’s, to take a look at the Scarlotta crop.

They discovered a grape with round berries, a great depth of red colour and
Scarlotta variety Rupert Maude, José Francisco Velasco and Sarah Blanford even spread and size. José Francisco has pockets of Scarlotta production on seven different farms, at varying altitudes and with differing aspects, testing where the optimum conditions will be.

As Andrew Sharp explains, “We work hard to find the right varieties that deliver everything we want for consumers – great flavour and appearance. To get a variety like Scarlotta that has a deeper colour than Crimson will be particularly useful for the October window, and to maintain sourcing from Spain means we aren’t overly reliant on the early Brazilian crops which can be prone to rainfall risk and which carry a much higher carbon footprint. This variety is really quite a breakthrough.”

Spanish Scarlotta from El Ciruelo will be on UK retail shelves throughout October.

For more information:
Judy Whittaker
Fresca Group
Tel: 0044 1892 831280

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