That’s a pretty big statement, but I’m finding that it’s true; and, it’s almost become some sort of OCD project with me… “Portugal has more indigenous grape varieties than any other country in the world.”
“Surely I can find them all,” I thought. “Okay, I’ll take it on.”
First learning about Portuguese wines from Enoforum, in the Alentejo region of Portugal, I’ve become really inspired to learn as much as I can about Portuguese wines in general… Hence, the list. I’d like to find them all. (How long could it take?)
The point when I realized that I had a really long way to go came to me while reading *Andre Dominé’s Wine, 5th Edition. I read, “Portugal: Land of 500 Grape Varieties?” At that point, I had already found 140, and thought I was near the end of my search. Now I knew I had just begun.
About four hours later, I then only had 176 red and white combined… and still counting, as of June 10, 2010.
Andre writes (p.664)
Portugal is often described as the country with the greatest variety of grapes in the world–according to frequently quoted estimates, there are supposed to be around 500 of them. But because no one has ever counted them all and distinguished genuine varieties from regional synonyms, there has to be some doubt about this figure. Wine experts assume, though, that there are 250 to 300 genuine grape varieties.
So, even with my 176 I still have a long way to go, because some in my list below may be a regional synonym. In this list I only have one name for a variety, with synonyms in parenthesis (so I don’t trick myself)… Although, it’s going to make it harder to find a variety, when trying to compare. I’m going to be using “Control F” a lot, I can see that coming.
For a complete listing of Portugal’s DOC regions, click here. (I’ve already written about them.) Below is a quick snapshot, so reading these wines with a regional locations puts it slightly more into perspective for anyone else researching.
- Rios de Minho ~ Vinho Verde DOC
- Tras-os-Montes ~ Douro DOC, Porto DOC ~ More than 30 grape varieties are grown in the Douro for Port
- Beiras ~ Bairrada DOC, Vinho do Dão DOC
- Estremadura ~ Bucelas DOC, Carcavelos DOC, Colares DOC
- Ribatejo ~ Ribatejo DOC
- Alentejo ~ Portalegre DOC, Borba DOC, Redondo DOC, Reguengos DOC, Vidigueira DOC
- Terras do Sado ~ Setúbal DOC
- Algarve ~ Lagos DOC, Lagoa DOC, Portimão DOC, Tavira DOC
- Madeira ~ Madeira DOC
Here’s my list, which I’ll continue to update as I find them, putting numbers down, too, so this list stays current.
Portuguese White Grape Varieties (Name ~ DOC Region)
- Algarve ~ Bucelas, Carcavelos
- Alvaraca ~ Douro
- Alvarinho ~ Monção, used for Vinho Verde (syn.. Cainho Branco)
- Antoã Vaz ~ Alentejo, Douro, Vidigueira
- Arinto ~ Bucelas (still and sparkling wines), Alentejo, Bairrada, Setúbal, Tejo, Carcavelos, Dão, Douro, Portalegre, Setúbal, Vinho Verde (syn. Paderná)
- Arinto de Dão
- Arinto Gordo
- Assario Branco ~ Dão, Alentejo
- Avesso ~ Vinho Verde (syn. Jaén Blanco)
- Azal Branco~ Vinho Verde, Douro
- Barcelo ~ Dão
- Batoca ~ Vinho Verde
- Bical ~ Dão, Bairrada
- Boais ~ Setúbal
- Boal ~ Carcavelos, Lagos, Madeira, Douro (five strains of this grape; most famous ~ Boal in Madeira)
- Boal Branco
- Borrado das Moscas
- Brancelho (syn. Alvarlho)
- Branco Especial ~ Douro
- Branco sem Nome ~ Douro
- Branco Valente ~ Douro
- Caramela ~ Douro
- Carao de Moca ~ Madeira
- Carrega Branco ~ Douro
- Casal ~ Minho
- Cercial ~ Porto, Douro, Dão, Bairrada
- Códega ~ (syn. Roupeiro)
- Crato Branco ~ Lagoa, Portimão, Tavira
- Diagalves: Setúbal
- Donzelinho Branco ~ Porto, Douro
- Douradinha ~ Minho
- Dourado ~ Minho
- Encruzado ~ Dão
- Esgana Cão ~ Used as blender all over Portugal (syn.. Sercial in Madeira)
- Fernão Pires ~ Douro, Setúbal, Alentejo, and other regions. (syn. “Maria Gomez” in Bairrada)
- Folgosão ~ Porto, Douro, Madeira
- Fonte Cal
- Formosa ~ Douro
- Galego Dourado ~ Carcavelos, Colares, Portalegre
- Gouveio ~ (syn. Verdelho)
- Jampal ~ Colares, Douro
- Lameiro ~ Minho
- Listrao ~ Douro, Madeira
- Loureiro ~ Vinho Verde
- Malvasia ~ Colares
- Malvasia Bianca ~ (syn. Malmsey)
- Malvasia Cândida ~ Madeira
- Malvasia Corada ~ Douro
- Malvasia Fina Boal ~ Used throughout Portugal, including for white ports
- Malvasia Real
- Malvasia Rei ~ Douro
- Manteúdo ~ Algarve, Portalegre, Redondo, Reguengos, Vidigueira,Alentejo
- Moscatel Galego Branco ~ Porto, Douro
- Moscatel Graúdo ~ Algarve (syn. Moscatel de Setúbal, Muscat d’Alexdrandrie)
- Pederna ~ Douro
- Perrum ~ Alentejo, Algarve, Borba, Reguengos, Vidigueira (syn.. Palomino)
- Pintosa ~ Minho
- Praça ~ Douro
- Rabigato ~ Grown all over Portugal, Bairrada, Bucelas, Alentejo, Algarve (syn. Rabo d´Ovelha)
- Rabo de Ovelha ~ Bairrada, Borba, Bucelas, Redondo, Reguengos, Setúbal, Vidigueira
- Ratinho ~ Carcavelos
- Roupeiro ~ Douro, Algarve, Borba, Portalegre, Redondo, Reguengos, Setúbal, Vidigueira (syn. Codéga)
- Sao Saul ~ Douro
- Sarigo ~ Douro
- Samarrinho ~ Porto, Douro
- Sémillon ~ Porto, Douro
- Tália ~ Setúbal (syn. Ugni blanc)
- Tamarêz ~ Borba, Redondo, Setúbal
- Touriga Branca ~ Douro
- Trajadura ~ Vinhos Verde
- Trincadeira das Pratas (syn. Tmarez d’Azeitao)
- Uva Cão ~ Dão
- Verdelho ~ Madeira (syn. Gouveio), all of Portugal
- Viosinho ~ Douro, used in white ports
- Vital ~ Douro, Porto
Portuguese Red Grapes Varieties (Name ~ Region)
- Abundante ~ Alentejo
- Alfrocheiro Preto ~ Dão main grape, Bairrada, Vidigueira
- Alicante Bouschet ~ Alentejo, Algarve
- Alvarelhão ~ Douro, Setúbal
- Amaral ~
- Aramont ~ Douro
- Azal Tinto ~ Vinho Verde, Minho
- Baga ~ (syn. Poelrinha, Ribatejo)
- Baga Trincadeira ~ Bairrada main grape; also used in Alentejo and Ribatejo.
- Barrete de Padre ~ Madeira
- Bastardo ~ Douro, Madeira, Setúbal
- Borraçal ~ Minho
- Borrado das Moscas: Dão
- Callabriga ~ Dão, Duro, Alentejo
- Camarate ~ Bairrada
- Canica ~ Madeira
- Carinhana ~ Douro
- Carrega Tinto ~ Douro
- Casculho ~ Douro
- Castelão Nacional
- Complexa ~ Madeira
- Concieira ~ Douro
- Cornifesto ~ Douro
- Donzelinho Tinto ~ Douro
- Duas Quintas ~ Douro
- Encruzado ~ Dão
- Espadeiro ~ Minho, Vinho Verde, Bairrada, Carcavelos
- Ferral ~ Madeira
- Gonçalo Pires ~ Douro
- Grand Noir
- Grangeal ~ Douro
- Jacquet ~ Madeira
- Jaén ~ Bairrada, Dão
- Jaén e Rufete ~ Dão
- Labrusco ~ Minho
- Malvasia Cândida Roxa ~ Madeira
- Malvasia Preta ~ Porto, Douro
- Maria Gomes ~ Bairrada, Ribatejo (syn. Fernão Pires, Fernaopires)
- Marufo ~ Douro (syn. Mourisco Tinto)
- Messias Reserva ~ Dão
- Moreto ~ Widely grown in Portugal, not used as single varietal wine
- Moscatel Roxo ~ Setúbal ( syn. Moscatel Galego Roxo )
- Mourisco ~ Douro, Setúbal
- Negra Mole ~ Algarve, Carcavelos, Colares, Lagoa, Lagos, Madeira, Portimão, Tavira
- Nevoeira ~ Douro
- Padeiro ~ Vinho Verde
- Patorra ~ Douro
- Pedral ~ Vinho Verde
- Periquitá ~ Alentejo, Algarve (syn.MortÃ¡gua), Borba, Lagoa, Lagos, Portalegre, Portimão, Redondo, Reguengos, Tavira, Vidigueira, Douro
- Preto Martinho ~ Carcavelos, Douro
- Preto Mortagua ~ Dão
- Rabo de Anho ~ Vinho Verde
- Ramisco ~ Colares region
- Rufete ~ Dão, Douro
- Samarim ~ Minho
- Seara Nova
- Sevilhão ~ Douro
- Sousão ~ Douro
- Terrantez ~ Madeira (syn. Folgasã)
- Tinta Aguiar ~ Douro
- Tinta Barroca ~ Douro, one of the blenders for most ports
- Tinta Caiada ~ Alentejo
- Tinta Cão ~ Douro
- Tinta Carvalha ~ Douro
- Tinta da Barca ~ Douro
- Tinta Francisca ~ Douro
- Tinta Lameira ~ Douro
- Tinta Mesquita ~ Douro
- Tinta Miúda ~ Lisboa, Tejo (syn. Graciano)
- Tinta Negra Mole ~ Madeira
- Tinta Pereora ~ Douro
- Tinta Pinheira ~ Bairrada, Dão
- Tinta Pomar ~ Douro
- Tinta Roriz ~ (Tempranillo in Spain) Port making and Alentejo (syn. ” Aragonês); Dão and Douro for table wines, Algarve, Dão, Douro, Setúbal
- Tinta Roseira ~ Douro
- Tinta Varejoa ~ Douro
- Tinto Martins ~ Douro
- Touriga Fêmea ~ Douro
- Touriga Franca ~ Douro
- Touriga Francesa ~ Douro, Dão (over 20% of all plantings) (syn. Touriga Franca, Perionto)
- Touriga Nacional ~ Douro Valley and Dão for port wines, Alentejo, Bairrada
- Trincadeira ~ Carcavelos, Colares, Portalegre, Alentejo, Vidigueira, Douro, Vinho Verde (syn. Tinta Amarela, Trincadeira Preta, Castelão Frances)
- Trincadeira Toreiro
- Triunfo ~ Madeira, Algarve
- Vale do Meaon ~ Douro
- Vinhão ~ Vinho Verde, Douro
Sources to Date
- The Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Jancis Robinson, Second Edition ~ ISBN 0-19-866236-X
- Parker’s Wine Buying Guide, 6th Edition ~ ISBN 00-7432-2932-0
- The Global Encyclopedia of Wine, 378-399 ~ ISBN 1-74048-031-7
- The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia by Tom Stevenson, pg 373-376 ~ ISBN 0-7894-8039-5
- *Wine, Andre Domine, 5th Edition ~ ISBN 3-8331-1032-5
- Wine Appreciation by Richard P. Vine ~ ISBN 0-8160-1148-6
- Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil ~ ISBN 1-56305-434-5
Jo, it’s Catavino.net not Catavino.com! 🙂
Thanks for the reference!
Trying to help you
Check this site for white grapes
and this one for red
Lots of grapes to taste!!!
After you find them all it would be even more interesting to find wines made with them. I highly recommend this book by Richard Mayson:
Ryan, corrected. Thanks. I need all the help I can get ;^)
At least the link did get anyone to the right location. Now the correct URL is also published correctly.
OMG! Did you get writer’s cramp typing this?
Luis… Wow… I’d say the only reason for me to have done all of this research was to get me to these sites. It will be fun to cross check, seeing what I’ve missed, and/or could I have others not on this list?
I’ll be back after I study the two side by side. How fun! Thanks.
Now kidding. I’m on a Wine Century Club quest. The goal is to have tasted 100 different varieties, not necessarily as a single cultivar in one wine. I’ve made it past my first 100, and now I’m headed toward my next 100. Once I’ve tasted 200, I can keep going to 300 and 400. If I get the proper Portuguese wines, I could accomplish this a lot quicker than with any other country’s wines.
I’ll buy Richard’s book. thanks for the tip.
Let’s just say that this list took more than one day. ;^)
I’m really interested in Portuguese varieties grown in California. Does anyone know what people have tried growing here and what has succeeded and/or failed?
Great list, BTW!
Yes, there are success stories. TAPAS organization (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society) at http://www.tapasociety.org.
Now that’s a lot of grapes? Are you going to test us on this list? 🙂
We have asked the question on the nº of grape varieties in Portugal several times and never get an answer! So please let us know when you get the definitive nº between 250 and 300.
I’m not sure anyone is going to get the definitive number, because the name of grapes seems to change from one appellation to the next, I do know that I’m going to keep going until I’ve exhausted every available avenue, separating as much as possible. At some point, I’ll hit the wall, and that will be my definite number… I plan to be busy for a while, though.
You can’t even test me on the list, but I did learn a lot in the process, because the same names came up over-and-over again. Very cute!
Did you try the super gigantic Y2K wine grape glossary
Nope, I haven’t, but it looks like another great resource. Thanks, Brian.
By the way, Alvarelhão is a Dão variety as well as Douro. Would love to hear how you’re getting on with this list. I live in Portugal and make wine for my own consumption from the vines growing on my quinta (homestead) and I’m trying to identify them.
In common with many quintas in this area, mine is planted with many traditional grape varieties of the Dão region, all mixed together with white amongst the red. Pre-blended, so to speak. No two adjacent vines are the same variety. I’ve been able to identify some but there are many and some which, I’ve been told, it’s entirely possible nobody can name. I’ve certainly got grapes I can’t identify from any of the online sources I’ve found. There are roughly 3 times as many red as white grapes which seems to be more or less the norm. Many people even pick them together and make their wine from the mixture.
One thing I love about the rural Portuguese is their down-to-earth attitude about their produce. There’s lots of pride in what they make – and justifiably so – but snobbery is rare. It does mean though that if you want to attach labels to varieties, it’s a big challenge. If you ask what grape varieties people have growing, mostly you just get a shrug and “local varieties …” in response. Part of this too is that land is passed down from generation to generation and even if the varieties were known by name by the original planter, the knowledge is lost by the time it reaches their grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Georgia has 521 varieties of grapes! Georgia is called Wine Motherland!
A great page, thank you.
I am researching global grape varities and Portugal is throwing up all sorts of dilemmas for me.Albeit very interesting.
Do you know anything about the variety Coda?
All the best
Sorry re my last post.
The grape variety is Codo
Stephen, no, I’m not familiar with this variety. I can ask a Portuguese friend, if you’d like?
The original name that you have mentioned for the white grape variety Coda, seems correct. In Italy, the name Coda di Volpe means “tail of the fox”, and was given in reference to the grape variety’s long, pendulous bunches of grapes, which resemble a fox’s bushy tail. Just look-up http://www.wine-searcher.com/.
I would just like to add some comments on the subject of ‘Portugal has more indigenous grape varieties than any other country in the world’.
I would not totally agree with your statement about Portugal having more indigenous grape varieties than any country in the world. The main reason why I say this is that recently, it has been proved scientifically, via grapevine microsatellite DNA analysis (using what as known as Simple Sequence Repeats – or SSR), that there is a lot of synonymy (i.e. different names for the same grapevine variety) within the Vitis vinifera grapevines of the world.
So I’m inclined rather to name the 4 countries that most likely have within them, the most indigenous grape varieties OF the world. Those three countries are, in this order: Georgia (as highlighted by Ninelle), Italy (including Sicily) and then, maybe Portugal (including Madeira) followed by Spain.
My ancestry is actually Portuguese (parents originally from Madeira) and my hobby for the last 40 years has been the breeding of new red wine grape varieties. I have created a new ruby-red wine grape cultivar which I have called ‘Cabernet labrusco’, which is a deliberate cross between Cabernet sauvignon X Danugue noir. This new cultivar has been analysed using 19 SSR microsatellite markers which has proven that the parentage of Cabernet labrusco is correct.
This new variety of grapevine has been created in South Africa where I reside. Please take some time to visit my blog on this new variety at:
Thanks, Jerry. This is an excellent comment and worthy of a separate blog post. I’ll run it by you via E-Mail, before publishing.
I just want to correct my misunderstanding of what Stephen actually meant when he mentioned the grape variety ‘Codo’ (which seems to have an origin in Portugal). Unfortunately, I could not find any other information about this variety (hopefully it is not extinct).
On the subject of ‘Portugal has more indigenous grape varieties than any other country in the world’, I found the following interesting information:
Federico Vincenzi, Italian sommelier and wine writer, gives (in 2006) a quote from Jancis Robinson that “there are more then 350 different authochthonous (aka indigenous, native) wine grape varietals in Italy” (see http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/italys-treasure-trove-of-grape-varieties-anyone-for-tintilia)
However, Dr Ian D’Agata, in his new book, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (2014), describes more than 500 different authochthonous varieties from Italy (including Sardinia and Sicily).
Note that: …“autochthonous” … refers to grape varieties that are almost exclusively the result of natural cross-breeding or mutation in a particular growing area, and have a long history in that area. Throughout their development, they adjusted well to the local conditions – and ‘today’ give their best quality under these same conditions (see ref: http://www.veronissima.com/sito_inglese/html/wine-history-verona.html).
I would actually put the above note in a different (more scientific) way by saying that “autochthonous” really implies that a mechanism of ‘natural selection’ has been at work on all these ‘local’ cultivars that allow the ‘fittest’ to survive in those particular regions. So, this could very well mean that even an ‘international’ cultivar, such as Cabernet sauvignon, could have undergone some small mutations that would result in a ‘clone’ that is better adapted to a particular environment. One of the best examples of a cultivar that does not adapt very well in many environments (terroirs, climatic conditions etc.) is that of Pinot noir. This cultivar seems to easily undergo ‘unfavourable’ mutations in very hot climatic regions, and so does generally badly outside France.
I would like anyone to maybe comment on my statement above and correct me if I’m wrong.
Green Valley of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County makes so very pretty Pinot Noirs. They growers all refer to the Dijon clone, but I’m not a vigneron, so I’m very limited in knowledge. We do have an absence of the damp (barn yard) quality, but the flavors are very still very delicious. It’s also very hard to grow here, for the same reasons as France. Green Valley has a lot of moisture, via fog from a couple of water influences: the Petaluma Wind Gap and the Russian River.
That is precisely what I was trying to explain about the temperamental Pinot noir cultivar.
The Green Valley of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County is a very good example of the adaptation of certain Pinot noir clones to the local cool climate afforded by the foggy conditions in the region.
As Tony Craig of Sonnet Wine Cellars and Ed Muns of Muns Vineyard highlighted in a recent talk on Pinot noirs, they mention that there are some 50 certified Dijon (French) clones available to experiment with. That’s a lot of clones at one’s disposal, unlike with other noble cultivars such as Cabernet sauvignon etc.
So the implication is that after a number of years of adaptation of a number of these Pinot noir clones to the local environmental conditions, one would eventually accept that such Pinot noir clones could be regarded as autochthonous for the Sonoma county (or for California in the broadest terms).
Thanks for this beautiful example and ‘cheers’ to a glass of Pinot noir, salud!
All the best