Primary Port Varieties
Tinta Barroca

Tinta Barroca

Tinta Barroca, typically the first grape harvested, has a long and distinguished pedigree having been recognized as one of the finest grapes for Port and Douro table wine production since the end of the 18th Century. Many compare it to Zinfandel. It is an excellent all-round performer with above average vigor, sustaining large yields of fruit high in both sugar and tannin. The bunches are long and loose but made up of thin-skinned berries which make them highly susceptible to sunburn. It is more resistant to fungal diseases than one might expect but is commonly infected by leaf roll virus.

Picked at its peak when it has a fuller flavor of red fruits, cherry, raspberry and mulberry and a much firmer tannic backbone although acidity is often low. The wines are noted for their strength, elegant aromas and long finish. Whilst the color of Tinta Barroca wines is not especially intense, it has a low tendency for oxidation and therefore lasts well with aging.

Touriga National

Touriga Nacional

Touriga Nacional, the next to ripen, is widely considered to be the finest of the Port grapes with references to its culture in the Douro dating back to the 17th Century. It delivers backbone and concentration with rich cassis flavors. Stylistically we call it the “Cabernet” of the Douro. Characterized by extremely low yields, it is also a vigorous variety with a propensity to produce vegetation rather than fruit which makes it very prone to poor set. Maturation can be relatively early given the habitually low crop load. The berries are small and dark blue owing to a high concentration of phenolic components in the skin which impart a deep color on the wines.

These are usually intensely aromatic with an impressive depth of fruit and complexity. Black fruits such as cassis, mulberry and raspberry dominate and are complemented by the resinous aromas of violets and rockrose. Some musky or gamey characteristics might also be present. High tannin levels and good natural acidity mean that the wines have an excellent potential for aging without loss of structure or balance.

Tinta Roriz

Tinta Roriz

Portuguese name for “Tempranillo”, Tinta Roriz is one of Iberia’s premium wine grapes as well as one of the oldest. It is currently grown widely across Portugal and Spain. In the field it is easily recognized by its unique leaves. They have very deep, overlapping sinuses which give a delicate, snowflake-like appearance and the young leaves stand out on account of their pale, yellowish color. The berries are succulent and have a thick skin which protects them. The fruit gives medium to high sugar production although acidity can be on the low side.

Tinta Roriz is falling out of favor due to its high yeilds. To encourage the development of the ripe flavors for which it is famed it grows best on dry, well-exposed slopes. Tinta Roriz really reaches its full potential at a high degree of maturity, delivering deep, intense wines with an aromatic profile consisting of mulberry, blackberry, black cherry and jam. The nose is often aromatic, reminiscent of rockrose and spices. The thick tannins which stabilize the color and impart a fine astringency mean that wines made from Tinta Roriz withstand long aging in wood or bottle without losing their structure. Since they also protect against oxidation, the wines retain a reddish hue even when quite old.

Tinta Cao

Tinto Cão

Tinto Cão is a very ancient variety which has been known in the Douro since the 17th Century. It ripens late but needs to be picked at the right time to achieve the delicate balance of alcohol and acidity. The vines are hardy and rustic, tolerating high temperatures and drought conditions. Being very vigorous and a having a relatively long vegetative cycle means that the fruit does not over ripen even when grown with a southerly exposure. Tinto Cão is characterized by small bunches with thick skins that are very resistant to both sunburn and fungal diseases.

Although the juice is prone to oxidation, it produces wines with sweet, fresh, floral and fruity characters on the palate. These elegant, aromatic flavors become peppery and spicier with riper grapes. Although the wines have less color and structure than certain other varieties, they do improve as the vines age and produce very long-lived wines.

Touriga Franca

Touriga Franca

Touriga Franca is a widely planted Port and DOC grape and also the last to ripen. Stylistically we call it the “Merlot” of the Douro. Its popularity stems at least in part from its high and consistent yields which need to be controlled carefully to avoid undesirable reductions in quality. It grows well all over the Douro, although it thrives in hot zones because, in order to gain complete ripeness, it requires lots of sunlight and good exposure.

Touriga Franca is very resistant to high temperatures because of its thick-skinned berries. However, the bunch is also fairly compact which can lead to fungal problems. The leaves are very similar to those of Touriga Nacional but as a general rule they are rougher, more rounded and have shallower sinuses than the latter.

The wine made from Touriga Franca is robust and rich in color and structure. It has particularly lifted exotic floral aromas as well as intense red fruit flavors, rockrose, and sometimes blackberries. It may also display some earthy notes on occasions. It has a long finish and there is a tendency for pigments to oxidize and precipitate out over time.

Alicante Bouchet

Alicante Bouschet

Developed in 1866 as a cross between Grenache and Petit Bouschet. Alicante is a teinturier: a grape with red flesh. Its deep color makes it useful for blending and is used for adding tannin and color to Port.

It buds and ripens early-to-mid season to produce wines high in alcohol, particularly where jamminess is valued and extended 'hang-time' is practiced. The wines tend to be short on primary aromas and can lack character and complexity when young. Alicante Bouschet performs best under specific conditions and where tertiary aromas are allowed to predominate through aging.

The grape vine is thought to be prone to grape diseases like anthracnose, downy mildew and occasionally bunch rots in rare instances where bunches are tight at harvest. Alicante Bouschet leaves turn a beautiful purple hue in late autumn.

Big, bold Alicante Bouschet is unquestionably fruit-forward, with flavors ranging from fresh to jammy blackberries, blueberries, black cherries, and more. It has spicy, smoky flavors along with sweeter tones of dark chocolate, baking spice, and vanilla bean.

 

Souzao

Souzão

Identical to the Vinhao grape, Souzão has become increasingly popular in Port production.

It offers intense flavor and color with good acidic structure; traits that unusually comes from both its skin and juice. The flesh of Souzao is pale, but the colors of the skins are intense.

In addition to high potential alcohol and natural acidity, the Souzão grape also produces deep-colored wines with concentrated ripe and raisiny flavors.

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