Have you had the pleasure of sipping wines from Portugal? The region of Tejo is one that is emerging here in the U.S however it’s one of Portugal’s oldest wine regions! The wines from Tejo are experiencing a renaissance in that they are becoming increasingly popular and the regions producers are focusing on quality, style, and indigenous grapes. The regions local grape varietals grow well with Portugal’s warm climate and complex soils. Many of the wines from this region are affordable, fruit forward, and terroir driven.
So, what are some of the indigenous varietals?
Whites: Luscious with balanced acidity
Arinto– Produces a vibrant wine with orchard fruits and citrus. Best enjoyed while young due to the natural and luscious acidity.
Fernão Pires- Versatile varietal found mainly in Southern Portugal that can be picked at different ripeness levels to obtain certain flavor profiles. Bright wines with citrus, stone fruits, and tropical notes are noticed in the wines produced from this varietal.
Alvarinho- The grape is known as Albariño in the Spanish region of Galicia. In Portugal, the grape is called Alvarinho. It is typically a light, fresh, and crisp grape, that produces wines with striking acidity.
Verdelho- Originating in Madeira, this native varietal is known for it’s natural acidity when grown in warm climates. Extremely fragrant with notes of mango, papaya, and citrus with some herbs and minerality.
Reds: Rich in flavor and highly approachable
Touriga Nacional- One of Portugal’s most well known grape varietals producing wines with high tannins, full body and flavors like dark berries, plums, and flowers. This grape does best in Portugal’s warm southern climate.
Trincadeira- This varietal likes it hot, hot, hot! Sort of difficult to grow, however those producers that can and do grow it well, make wines with bright raspberry, herb, and spice notes with attractive acidity.
Castelão- Found mainly in southern Portugal, this grape has the ability to produce well-structured wines with vibrant acidity, plums, red currants, and even meat aromas. Castelão is great when blended with other grape varietals due to it’s structure and rustic quality.
Aragonês- Also known as Tinto Roriz in northern Portugal, this varietal makes rich and bold wines. Mainly found in blends, this grape produces round, fruit forward wines with undertones of spice.
*Besides the native varietals, you can also find Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Tejo region.
The Tejo region is home to more than 80 wineries, many of which have been family-owned for generations. Here in the U.S. you can find at least 20 producers available with more to come into the marketplace in the near future. Want to discover some wines from Tejo? These five wineries are available in NJ, NY, FL, MA, MD, MN, CA, IL, CT, DC, and VA. Adega Cooperativa DO Cartaxo, Casal Branco, Casal Da Coelheira, Fiuza & Bright, and Quinta Da Lagoalva De Cima.