Alvarinho caste is one of the most remarkable Portuguese white varieties. It is a very old and low production variety that is mainly planted in the zone of Monção and Melgaço (region of the Green Wines). It can take two distinct forms: small bunch, little compact and small and golden berries or medium bunch and larger berries that remain greenish when ripe. This caste is responsible for the success of the first Portuguese wines "monovarietal" (single caste), because in Portugal batch wines (mixture of several varieties) are more common. The Alvarinho grape variety produces very aromatic wines that reach high alcoholic degrees and retain a very balanced acidity.
Antão Vaz caste is one of the most important castes in the Alentejo region. A native of Vidigueira, in the south of the Alentejo, it is quite resistant to drought and disease. It has medium-sized bunches with small, uniform berries that are yellowish-green in color and at the end of maturation are yellow. The wines produced by this variety are very aromatic (predominantly the aromas of tropical fruits) and are generally citrus colored.
The Arinto is a very versatile grape variety, so it is grown in almost all wine regions. In the region of Vinhos Verdes is known by Pedernã. However, it is in the region of Bucelas that this caste gains notoriety, being considered the caste "queen" of the region. The bunch of the Arinto variety is large, compact and composed of small or medium yellow berries. This caste is often used in the production of lot wines (more than a grape variety) and also of sparkling wine. In the region of Bucelas, it produces monovarietal wines (a single grape variety) of high acidity, citrus color and markedly floral and fruity (when young).
The Avesso grape variety is cultivated in the Vinhos Verdes region, but its planting is concentrated near the Douro region, specifically in the sub regions of Baião, Resende and Cinfães. There, it finds the favorable conditions to develop, since it prefers dry and less fertile soils than those that usually exist in other areas of the Vinhos Verdes region. The clusters of the Avesso grape variety are medium in size and their berries are large and yellowish green. This variety produces aromatic wines, very tasty and harmonious. The qualities of the Avesso grape variety are truly appreciated when maturation conditions allow wines with at least 11% alcohol to be produced.
The Azal Branco variety is a quality variety cultivated in the Vinhos Verdes region, mainly in the sub-regions of Penafiel, Amarante and Basto. In the early twentieth century, it was the main caste for the region's white wine production. The clusters of Azal Branco are of medium size and consist of large berries of compact arrangement. It is a very productive caste, of late maturation and its berries present a greenish color even at the end of maturation. The wines that have the Azal Branco grape variety in their composition have little intense fruity aromas. These wines are very acidulated, so the single varieties of Azal Branco are rare.
(or Borrado das Moscas)
The Bical variety is typical of the region of Beiras, especially in the area of Bairrada and Dão (where it is called "Borrado das Moscas", due to the small brown spots that appear in mature berries). At the time of the technological revolution in Bairrada in the 80s, it was possible to know all the qualities of the Bical variety. Thus, along with the caste Maria Gomes, the Bical is one of the most important castes of the region. This caste is of early maturation, so its berries retain a lot of acidity. It is very resistant to rot, but particularly sensitive to powdery mildew.
The wines produced with this variety are very aromatic, fresh and well structured. In Bairrada Bical variety is widely used in the production of sparkling wine.
(or Esgana Cão)
The Cercial variety is grown in different wine-growing regions. According to the region can adopt different spellings and present slightly different characteristics. The Douro and Cerro do Dão, the Cercial da Bairrada and the Cercial da Madeira, also known as Esgana Cão do Douro, are known. The main characteristics of the varieties of the Cercial are the high production and good acidity. This grape variety produces the famous Sercial da Madeira wine, a dry wine that after aging acquires exceptional characteristics. The mono-varietal wines of this variety are generally somewhat unbalanced, so it is customary to fill the Cercial with other varieties such as Bical, Fernão Pires or Malvasia Fina. In these wines, the characteristic inherited from the Cercial is the high acidity and the delicate aromas.
The cultivation of the Encruzado variety is practically exclusive of the Dão zone, being probably the best white variety planted in the region. It is used in the production of most white wines through batch wines or single-varietal wines.
Encruzado caste has a good production and is fairly balanced in sugar and acidity. On the other hand, it is very sensitive to rot and unfavorable weather conditions (rain and wind). The wines composed by this variety are very aromatic and with a marked flavor. They have an outstanding longevity, since they can be kept in bottles for many years.
(or Maria Gomes)
Fernão Pires is one of the most planted white grape varieties in Portugal. It is more cultivated in the central and southern areas, especially in the area of Bairrada (where it is known as Maria Gomes), Estremadura, Ribatejo and Setúbal. The Fernão Pires variety has a very early maturation, so it is one of the first Portuguese grape varieties to be harvested. In addition, being very sensitive to frost, it develops best on fertile soils of hot or temperate climate. This caste has a good alcohol content and low or medium acidity, so wines produced or mixed with this variety have intense floral aromas.
The Fonte Cal variety comes from Beira Interior, being essentially planted there, particularly in the Pinhel area. It is a breed of good production and easy adaptation to any climatic conditions. It has medium and very compact bunches with yellowish green berries. The wines produced from this variety dominate the floral and fruity aromas, the good acidity and a pleasant and well structured flavor. However, the Fonte Cal variety is more commonly used as a batch variety, especially with the Arinto variety.
The Gouveio caste is cultivated in the Douro region, where it is also known as Verdelho, so it is often confused with the Verdelho variety cultivated in the Azores and Madeira. It is a caste with good ripening and good production. It presents medium and compact curls that produce small grapes of yellowish-green color. The wines produced with Gouveio present an excellent balance between acidity and sugar, being characterized by its high graduation, good structure and intense aromas. In addition, they are wines that have excellent conditions for bottle aging.
The Loureiro caste exists in most of the Vinhos Verdes region, but originates from the Lima river valley. It is a very productive and fertile caste, but only recently was it considered a noble caste. The bunches are large and not very compact, while the berries are medium and yellowish or greenish in color. The Loureiro grape variety produces wines with high acidity and with very accented floral and fruity aromas. Although it produces "single-varietal" wines (one variety) it is often used in batch wines (caste mix), where it is usually combined with the Trajadura and Arinto grape varieties.
(or Assario Branco, Boal Branco,
Arinto Galego, Boal)
Malvasia Fina is essentially planted in the interior of northern Portugal, in the Douro region and in the Távora-Varosa sub-region. However, it is also cultivated in the area of Portalegre (where it is called Arinto Galego), Dão (where it is known as Assario Branco) and in Madeira (where it acquires the name of Boal).
It is a caste that does not tolerate very high temperatures, so it is necessary to study the ideal time to realize the harvest in order to avoid the deterioration of the berries. It is particularly susceptible to rotting and to certain diseases and pests of the vine, such as powdery mildew and discord. Malvasia Fina produces wines with moderate acidity and delicate and little complex aromas and flavors.
This variety is of regular production and consists of bunches and medium-sized berries.
(or Moscatel Galego, Moscatel de Setúbal)
The Moscatel caste originates from the Middle East and will have been introduced into national lands in the time of the Roman Empire. It has undergone many transformations throughout the centuries and today, there are three varieties of the Moscatel caste in Portugal. The variety Moscatel de Setúbal is the most planted in Portugal, and its production is concentrated in the Peninsula of Setúbal, whose mild climate allows the ideal maturation of the berries. This caste is indispensable in the elaboration of the "Moscatel de Setúbal" generous wine, but it is also used to enrich other white wines in the region, as it is a primary grape variety (it is the taste and aroma of the wines). In the Douro region, in the area of Favaios and Alijó, the white variety Moscatel Galego used in the production of a liqueur wine is cultivated.
Rabo de Ovelha
The Rabo de Ovelha variety is grown in the Douro region, especially in the Upper Douro area. It is planted in small quantities in the Vinhos Verdes region under the name of Rabigato and in the wine growing zones of the south of the country (Extremadura, Ribatejo and Alentejo) where it is most widely known. The Sheeptail breed has medium bunches and small yellowish-green berries. It is a caste very sensitive to powdery mildew and mildew. Wine made from this variety is most commonly used to produce batch wines. The main qualities of the Rado de Ovelha grape variety in wines are the high alcohol content, good longevity and high acidity. The wines that include this variety in their composition have discrete aromas, with floral notes, vegetables and even minerals.
(or Côdega, Roupeiro, Alvadurão,
The Síria variety is cultivated in the interior regions of Portugal. Already the most planted white grape variety in the Alentejo region, where it is called Roupeiro, however, it was found that the temperatures too high in the Alentejo were not beneficial to this breed: the wines had no freshness, good acidity and lost the aromas quickly. Thus, cultivation of Syria was developed in the higher and fresh lands of Beira Interior (notably in the area of Castelo Rodrigo) and Dão (where the variety is known as Alvadurão, Côdega or Crato Branco). Syria is a very productive breed of small bunches and berries. Although very resistant to powdery mildew and mildew, it is very sensitive to rot. The wines produced with this breed are delicate, fresh and elegant.
The Terrantez caste originates from Dão, where it is known as Folgasão. It is also cultivated in the Azores, especially in the Pico e Biscoitos area and in Madeira, where it is considered a noble grape variety for the production of generous wine. Terrantez is a rare breed and is now almost extinct. One of the reasons for its extinction is the great tendency that the Terrantez has for the rot (often does not resist until the time of the vintage). Terrantez clusters are small, compact and composed of small berries of yellowish-green color. The wines produced by Terrantez are very fragrant, full-bodied and persistent in flavor.
The Trajadura variety comes from the Vinhos Verdes region, particularly from the Monção sub-region, although it has some expression in Galicia (Spain). It was quickly disseminated to the other sub-regions, being cultivated in almost the entire Vinhos Verdes region. The caste Trajadura presents a good production. Its bunches are very compact and medium in size, composed of large yellowish-green berries. The wines produced with the Trajadura variety have slightly intense aromas and are usually slightly unbalanced. It is common to fill the Trajadura variety with the Loureiro variety or, sometimes, with Alvarinho (grape varieties from the same region and more aromatic), to attribute greater alcoholic degree and better balance to the wines.
The Verdelho grape variety was famous for being one of the grape varieties used in the production of Madeira's generous wine. After the phylloxera period, its cultivation declined on the island, but still continues today to be used in the production of table wines and generous. The Verdelho variety is also cultivated in the Azores. Recently, the Verdelho variety has been used in the production of Australian wines. The wines produced with Verdelho are quite aromatic, balanced. Madeira wines made from the Verdelho grape variety are medium-dry and with delicate aromas. The Verdelho variety presents small and compact curls composed of small berries of yellowish green color.
The Viosinho variety is only cultivated in the regions of Douro and Trás-os-Montes, where it has been used since the 19th century. It is a caste of good quality and suitable for the production of tranquil wine and Port wine, however it has a weak production and therefore is poorly cultivated. The Viosinho presents small curls and berries of early maturation and very susceptible to rot. This caste develops best on dry soils. The grape variety produces well structured wines, fresh and with complex floral aromas. Normally they are also alcoholic and able to remain in the bottle for some years.
(or Alfrocheiro Tinto)
It is in the Dão region that the Alfrocheiro caste has greater expression. Present in many of the wines of the region, it is considered a high quality grape variety by several oenologists. The cultivation of this variety, also known as Alfrocheiro Preto in the Douro region, has successfully spread to the Alentejo, Ribatejo and Palmela regions. The Alfrocheiro caste is quite fertile, hence the need to control its production, so that the berries do not lose qualities, such as color. It is also important to control the vintage of this caste, since it has an early maturation and is very susceptible to diseases, especially to rot. This variety produces wines of very intense color and with aromas reminiscent of wildflowers, ripe blackberries and spices.
(or Tinta Roriz, Aragonês)
Aragonez is one of the most well known grape varieties in the Iberian Peninsula. Originally from Spain, where it takes its name from "Tempranillo", it is also known as Tinta Roriz in the Douro region. It is a caste very adaptable to different climates and soils, so its cultivation has increased and extended to the regions of Dão, Ribatejo and Extremadura. For the characteristics of the Aragonez grape variety to be excellent, their production has to be controlled. The ideal conditions are sandy soils and clay-limestone soils in hot and dry climates, so that production is lower and the berries more concentrated. This grape variety originates wines of high alcohol content, low acidity and suitable for aging, being very resistant to oxidation.
Baga is the predominant red grape variety of Bairrada, being also cultivated in Dão, Estremadura and in some areas of Ribatejo. It is a caste of high production, with bunches of small berries and of late maturation. In clayey soils with good sun exposure, Baga can mature properly and produce very dark, aroma-concentrated wines that can age in bottles for many years. In fertile soils, maturation of the caste is hampered by the high production of bunches and the wines it produces are low alcoholic and quite acidic.
(or Esfarrapa, Bogalhal)
The Borraçal grape variety is one of the most cultivated red grape varieties in the Vinhos Verdes region. It is planted in almost the whole region, where it is also known as Esfarrapa or Bogalhal, among other designations. The clusters of this breed are small and conical in shape. The berries are medium-sized, non-uniform and blue-black in color. The wines made from the Borracal caste show ruby color and a high degree of acidity.
(or João de Santarém, Castelão Francês, Periquita)
Castelão is one of the most cultivated grape varieties in the south of the country and particularly in the Peninsula area of Setúbal. Over time it has had several denominations: João de Santarém, Castelão Francés and the popularly published Periquita. Castelão grows best in warm climates and sandy and dry soils, because when planted in humid and fertile soils it produces poor quality wines. The wines produced by Castelão are concentrated, aromatic (raspberry and gooseberry) and with good conditions to grow old. The Setúbal Peninsula region produces the best wines of this breed.
(or Espadão, Espadal)
The Espadeiro grape variety is cultivated in the Vinhos Verdes region and produces very appreciated wine in the region. It can adopt other denominations according to the place where it is cultivated: Espadão, Espadal, among other names. This caste is very productive and has large curls, compact and composed of medium and uniform berries. The wines produced with this caste are acidic and light pink or very open ruby (when subjected to the prolonged tanning process). Some wineries produce rosé wine from the Espadeiro variety.
The Jaen caste has been cultivated in Portuguese Lands since the second half of the 19th century. It is a very common breed in the Dão and is thought to have been brought to the region through the pilgrims who went to Santiago de Compostela. Jaen besides producing generously is also an early maturing breed. It is very sensitive to mildew and prodrug. The wines produced from the Jaen grape variety are essentially characterized by their intense color, low acidity and intense aromas of red fruits.
The Moreto variety is characteristic of the Alentejo region, being cultivated in the areas of Reguengos, Redondo and Granja-Amareleja. It is thought that it would have been introduced in the region, around the nineteenth century, when there was a great development of vitivulture in the Alentejo. This caste features small-sized curls and medium-round, rounded berries. It is a very productive and late maturing caste. The wines produced with the Moreto grape variety are usually not very full-bodied and have little color, so it is used in batch wines. It is usually crowded with the varieties Trincadeira, Aragonez and Tinta Caiada.
Moscatel Galego Roxo
(or Moscatel Roxo)
The Moscatel Galego Roxo grape variety exists in a small quantity in the Peninsula of Setúbal and produces a generous wine similar to the "Moscatel de Setúbal", but with more complex aromas and flavors. Moscatel Galician Purple is often attacked by birds due to the aroma and sweetness of its berries. The aspect of this caste is quite different from the Moscatel caste: the bunches and berries are smaller and have a pink color. The wines produced by this variety have a high degree of sweetness, are very aromatic and persistent in flavor. Moscatel Galego Roxo grape variety is one of the "primary" grape varieties, so it is decisive in the aroma and taste of a wine.
The Ramisco variety is characteristic of the Colares area. Its cultivation is very peculiar and laborious, since this variety is planted in "sand floor" and without rootstock ("foot-franc"). The vineyards are located very close to the sea and in a zone close to big cities, so the urban pressure, the lack of labor and the poor profitability of the cultivation almost extinguished this caste. The breed Ramisco has a late maturation. Its bunches are medium and compact, consisting of small rounded berries. The wines have a relatively low alcoholic gradation (around 11º), high acidity and intense tannins. However, after aging in bottle, they become softer and very aromatic.
(or Tinta Pinheiro)
The Rufete variety, also known as Tinta Pinheira, is essentially cultivated in the Douro and Dão regions, especially in the Pinhel, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo and Cova da Beira sub-regions. It is a productive breed and its bunches and berries are of medium size. It is particularly sensitive to powdery mildew and mildew. This caste rarely produces high quality wines, however, if it reaches the ideal maturation time (roughly at the end of October) it manages to produce full-bodied, aromatic wines capable of remaining in the bottle for many years. The Rufete caste only produces good wines in specific microclimates, such as Pinhel, so it is used, most of the time, in the production of batch wines.
The Tinta Barroca variety is planted almost exclusively in the Douro region and is widely used in the production of batch wines. It is one of the grape varieties that make up some Porto wines, yet its monovarietal wines are not very famous. Tinta Barroca is very popular among producers because it is easy to grow and very productive. It is a very regular breed in production and resistant to diseases and pests. In addition, it has an early maturation and its concentrated sugar berries originate wines with high alcoholic concentration. The wines produced from the Baroque Tinta variety are easy to drink and soft tannins. However, most of the time, they are not very balanced or concentrated.
The Tinta Caiada grape variety is found in several Portuguese wine-growing regions and has a low wine and oenological quality, so it has not been a bet on the new vineyards. Tinta Caiada presents medium-sized bunches and berries. It is very sensitive to rot and needs very hot climates to ripen properly. It is in the Alentejo that the Tinta Caiada grape variety has produced more interesting wines, due to the warm climate and high number of hours of sunshine, conducive to the correct maturation of the berries. These wines have intense color, good acidity and pleasant aromas of ripe fruit and vegetables.
(or Negra Mole)
The Tinta Negra or only Negra Mole variety is the most planted ink variety on the island of Madeira. It is also cultivated in the Algarve, although it does not reach the qualities of the one that is cultivated in Madeira, due to the climatic conditions. Curls of Mole Black Ink vary in size from medium to large and are made up of non-uniform colored berries (ranging from bluish-black to pink). This grape variety produces a very sweet red wine and was widely used to produce Madeira wine. However, the producers came to the conclusion that regardless of the quality of this variety, the generous wines made with Tinta Negra would always be inferior to those made from the Boal, Sercial and Malvasia varieties.
The Tinto Cão breed has been cultivated in the Douro since the 18th century. However, since it was not very productive, it was never appreciated by farmers. Around the 80's it was discovered that the Tinto Cão has excellent characteristics for the production of Port wine. The cultivation of this variety extended to other regions, such as Dão, Estremadura and Península de Setúbal, where it exists in small quantities. The Tinto Cão has very small curls and of late maturation. It is very resistant to diseases and to rot, in addition to withstanding very high temperatures. The Tinto Cão breed is often crowded with the Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and others. It produces wines of color laden with delicate and floral aromas.
(or Touriga Francesa)
Touriga Franca is one of the most planted grape varieties in the Douro and Trás-os-Montes area. It is considered one of the best grape varieties for the production of Porto and Douro wine, but its cultivation has already been extended to the regions of Bairrada, Ribatejo, Setúbal or Estremadura. Touriga Franca has regular productions throughout the year and is quite resistant to diseases. Its bunches are medium or large with medium rounded berries. The wines produced by this breed have an intense color and are quite fruity. In Port wine, Touriga Franca integrates the lots with Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional.
The Vinhão grape variety is essentially appreciated for its coloring qualities, as it produces wines of intense red color and opaque to light. It is thought that it will come from the Minho area and have been taken to the Douro region, where it is known as Sousão. This variety has medium-sized curls composed of medium berries and blue-black uniforms. In the region of Vinhos Verdes, Vinhão is the most cultivated grape variety in the region. The wines produced with the Vinhão grape variety also have high acidity and sometimes they are very acidic. In the Douro this caste is essentially used to confer good color to the wine, including Port wine.
It is a noble breed and much appreciated in Portugal. Initially grown in the Dão region, it was quickly expanded to the Douro region to be used in the production of Port wine. Recently, the producers discovered the value of Touriga Nacional in the production of red table wines and its cultivation was extended to other regions such as Alentejo. It is a caste of little production: it has abundant curls, but small. The berries have a high concentration of sugar, color and aromas. The wines produced or mixed with the Touriga Nacional grape variety are quite balanced, alcoholic and with good aging capacity.
(or Tinta Amarela)
Trincadeira is a caste specially cultivated in the Alentejo and Douro regions (where it is called Tinta Amarela). It is a caste that presents medium and compact curls and medium and rounded berries. It is sensitive to diseases and rot (if the berries catch rain easily rot), so it develops best in dry and very hot climates. The wines produced are rich in color and aromas (especially fruity and vegetable), slightly alcoholic and with good conditions for aging.