Aragonez / Tinta Roriz
Tinta Roriz | Aragonez makes fine, elegant red wines with aromas of red fruits, plums and blackberries and firm tannins that provide a good ageing potential. Called Tinta Roriz in the north of Portugal, this is one of the top grapes for Port and Douro wines, also important in the Dão region. In the Alentejo it is called Aragonez and is generally used in blends with other varieties such like Trincadeira.
Alvarinho makes characterful, rich, mineral white wines with predominant notes of peaches and citrus fruits, and sometimes tropical fruits and flowers. This high-quality white grape has long been prized in the north west of Portugal, and is commonly planted in the northern part of the Vinho Verde region, between the River Lima and the River Minho which forms the border with Spain. Its famous heartland is the Vinho Verde sub-region of Monção and Melgaço. Alvarinho wines are fuller in body and higher in alcohol than most Vinho Verde, and are often bottled as a single variety, and named on the label. These wines are delicious when first bottled and can improve with age. Growers elsewhere in Portugal have recognised Alvarinho’s quality, and the variety is slowly spreading south.
Arinto / Pedernã
Arinto | Pedernã makes elegant, mineral white wines with predominant flavours of apple and lemon, that are delicious when young and fresh but can gain complexity with age. Arinto is the main grape of the famous wines of Bucelas; fine, elegant whites from an area just north of Lisbon. It’s a late-ripening grape with the great advantage that it keeps its marked freshness even in hot conditions. No wonder that it grows across much of the country, especially in hot region such as Alentejo to balance the lack of acidity. It often adds a crisp elegance to blends of other white varieties. It also succeeds in the cool Vinho Verde region, where it is known as Pedernã. Its naturally high acidity is also an advantage for the production of sparkling wines.
The most planted black grape of the southern part of Portugal can make firm, fine, raspberry-fruit wines that evolve to a cedar, cigar-box character. It is at its best in the Palmela region on the Setúbal Peninsula south of Lisbon.
Encruzado makes elegant, well-balanced and full-bodied whites with delicate floral and citrus aromas and sometimes an appealing mineral character. Delicious in a pure, un-oaked style, Encruzado also responds well to oak-fermentation or oak ageing, resulting in some serious, fine, well-structured wines that can mature and gain complexity over many years. You are most likely to find it in the Dão region in the center-north of the country, either as a single variety or in blends – these are some of Portugal’s most exciting white wines. In the vineyard, even in hot conditions, Encruzado grapes keep their fresh acidity and ripen to perfection without becoming overly sweet.
Fernão Pires / Maria Gomes
Fernão Pires | Maria Gomes makes light, fruity, fragrant whites reminiscent of Muscat in flavour. The tastes of citrus fruits and floral aromas are freshest when picked early for drinking young. It is also used in sparkling wines, and can occasionally be harvested later to make sweet wines. Portugal’s most cultivated white grape, it is widely grown across the country and especially along the western coast including the Setúbal Península, Tejo, Lisboa and Bairrada. Sometimes known under the alias of Maria Gomes.
Touriga Franca makes densely coloured, firm but rich, aromatic wines with floral overtones and blackberry fruit. It is one of the five officially recommended grapes for Port, and is also used in red Douro blends. Indeed it is the most widely planted grape in the Douro Valley and is generally used in blends.
Touriga Nacional makes firm, richly coloured wines (and Port) with complex aromas and flavours reminiscent of violets, liquorice, ripe blackcurrants and raspberries, along with a subtle, herby hint of bergamot. It’s a northern grape, by origin, but now it is grown all over Portugal with a potential to produce wines that age well.
Trincadeira / Tinta Amarelha
Trincadeira | Tinta Amarela can make reds with wonderfully bright raspberry fruit, spicy, peppery, herbal flavours, and very fresh acidity. This red grape grows all over Portugal, especially in dry, warm areas, but is probably at its best in the Alentejo. In the Douro region this grape is known as Tinta Amarela.