RABO DE OVELHA
This variety is planted all over Portugal, especially in the Alentejo, in Ribatejo and in Estremadura, but also in the Douro, where it is known as Rabigato. The wines produced from this grape have a citrus colour, and discrete – yet slightly fruity – aromas. They are balanced and slightly full-bodied, with notes of flowers, vegetables and even minerals. Since it generates a somewhat high quantity of alcohol, it is usually added to a batch with other varieties, thus improving the yield without losing quality. The wines produced from Rabo de Ovelha can be stored for quite a long time and have a good acidity level.
This is the main white grape in the Alentejo region, known in other places as Síria. It is a very productive grape characterised by its small bunches with pyramid shape and small berries with uniform size. The Roupeiro variety helps produce delicate, fresh and elegant wines with a citric colour. The wines have a fruity aroma with notes of orange and hints of peach, melon, laurel and wild flowers.
Little is known on the origin of this variety which is only found in the Alentejo region, where it extremely appreciated. It is well adapted to the warm and sunny climate of the wide plain. Its bunches are bulky and compact, the berries big with hard skin. With a citric colour, this variety helps produce firm wines with exuberant aromas and notes of ripen tropical fruits; flavours include mango, peach, tropical fruits and honey.
This grape is a secret well kept by the Alentejo region, although it first appeared in the Tejo region. In the past, it was cultivated in other regions, but under different names. The wines produced from this grape have a yellowish-citrus colour. They are slightly fruity and mildly acidic with notes of apricot, tangerine, nuts and sweet herbs. This grape is added to other white grapes in batches, thus improving the yield without losing quality.
The Arinto variety is probably the most cultivated grape in the Portuguese territory. In the Vinhos Verdes region, it is called Pedernã. Extremely versatile, the Arinto grape has medium-sized and compact bunches with small berries. Wines produced from this grape have an excellent balance in terms of alcohol and acidity. The aroma is relatively discrete with notes of green apple, lime and lemon. It is frequently used to produce blend wines and also sparkling.
This grape variety is among the noblest Portuguese varieties, and it is one of the participants in the production of the great quality of Madeira wine.
Verdelho is traditionally cultivated in the Isle of Madeira and it is responsible for the success of fortified wines under the same designation; it blossoms on the north coast of the island at high altitudes, offering grapes with notable acidity and reasonable level of sugar. This variety has small and compact bunches with small berries of green-yellowish colour. It produces aromatic wines with aromas of tropical fruits, passion-fruit, minerals and lime. The wines produced from this grape are well-structured and have a persistent flavour. Very noble, it allows producing high-quality white wines. It can be used to produce white wines with exquisite quality and the well-known fortified Madeira wine.
A variety with the name of a person, but male in the Alentejo region and female in the region of Bairrada, where it is known as Maria Gomes.
It is one of the most cultivated varieties in Portugal, traditionally in the regions of Tejo, Lisboa and Bairrada. Its productivity is high and the grape is very versatile, precociously productive and rich in aromatic compounds, which helps explain its popularity. The wines produced from this variety have a citrus colour and balanced acidity level. The aromas include lime, lemon, tangerine, orange blossom, rose and aromatic herbs. The flavour is persistent and elegant. Apart from Portugal, Fernão Pires has been cultivated with some success in South Africa and Australia. The wines should be consumed at an early stage.
The Gouveio grape variety is a traditional grape, especially in the region of Douro and Dão. It is a productive grape with generous yields, sensitive to oidium and late rains; its bunches are medium-sized and compact and the berries are yellowish-green. It produces fresh wines with lively greenish colours, with an excellent balance in terms of acidity and sugar. With a nice alcohol content, wines produced from this grape are full-bodied and have a nice capacity to age in the bottle. Aromas are of fresh citrus fruits with notes of peach and anise.
Alvarinho is a variety from the northeast of the peninsula, responsible for the success of the wines from the regions of Monção and Melgaço. It is a vigorous grape, but not very productive; its bunches are small and have a big proportion of grains. It produces elegant and aromatic wines with high alcohol content and a good structure. The acidity level is balanced and there are strong notes of citrus and tropical fruits, the latter especially in the Alentejo. Wines produced from this grape have aromatic notes of peach, lemon, passion-fruit, lychee, orange blossom and lemongrass.