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Grape discovery: six lesser-known varieties from Portugal

Home to a diverse range of native grapes, Portugal is a source of intriguing varietal wines that will be unfamiliar to most wine lovers. Julie Sheppard reports from a recent tasting, designed to shine a light on these lesser-known grapes, and recommends bottles to try.

Bical, Ramisco, Fonte Cal. The names may not be as well known as international varieties Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, but they’re part of the rich tapestry of indigenous grapes that make up the Portuguese wine scene.

In fact Portugal has the highest density of native grapes per square kilometre of any wine producing country in the world, boasting over 250 different varieties.


Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for six wines made from Portugal’s lesser-known grapes


The fortunes of these native grapes have been varied, due to factors such as commercial pressure and global wine trends. But in a world where people increasingly value the provenance and authenticity of what they drink and eat, these homegrown heroes can offer a point of difference among endless shelves of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Wines of Portugal has hosted a series of ‘Hidden Gems of Portugal’ tastings, designed to highlight some of the rare, undiscovered and exotic grape varieties in the country. They turn a spotlight on grapes that may be loved locally, but are rarely seen internationally or disappear into blends rather than being crafted as single-varietal wines.


See tasting notes and scores for six wines made from Portugal’s lesser-known grapes


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