This variety can be difficult to grow well, with small, thick-skinned berries it can produce highly tannic wines due to the skin to juice ratio. It prefers sunnier plots where the grape can fully ripen and reach full phenolic ripeness. It produces the best wines when harvested later, however, this does create an issue with rot, especially in the rainier coastal areas of Portugal. If left to its own devices, it is high yielding (producing lots of grapes) therefore the finer wines come from vines that have been carefully pruned. This is an attractive feature of the variety that attracts many bulk wine producers to use the variety.
The Grapes Characteristics:
The grape typically has black fruit flavours including plum and blackberries. Better examples can also have flavours of coffee and tobacco. The grape also has a good potential for ageing where it can create dried, jammy fruit flavours.
Its most notable area is the Bairrada DOC in Portugal where is the most commonly planted red variety. This area is known for the best examples of the grape with the greatest complexity however the vineyards closer to the coast can have issues with under ripe grapes.
In the Douro Valley, the variety is also known as Tinta de Bairrada. Here it can be used as one of the many permitted varieties to produce Port.
The variety is also used in a number of sweeter Portuguese rosé