Varietals as a commercial proposition

Thanks to technology transfer involving the expert assistance from the Geisenheim Research Center’s grapevine breeding department, varietal wines produced at the University of Évora since 1982 have revealed a hitherto unimagined varietal specificity. White and rosé wines produced a multiplicity of aromas which had evaporated at the fermentation temperatures in late summer used in traditional fermentation techniques. Red wines too, from original single variety cuttings from PLANSEL grown in the north and microvinified in Évora – such as Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Alfrocheiro – revealed a new wealth of taste notes not previously encountered in these wines.

This soon attracted the attention and interest of wineries. At some point in the 1980s, we invited the first major winery operation to ferment wine in our cold‑­‐storage warehouse, which we normally use for propagation material production purposes. Thus the first “Esporão branco” from the Síria variety (called Roupeiro at the time) was produced. It was the first wine of a future success story which had its beginnings in the microvinification experiments in Évora, and later, some 20,000 litres of this wine was cold fermented in Montemor for the first time. Other wineries, the newly created regional wine associations and cooperatives, and innovation‑­‐minded companies all visited PLANSEL and the University of Évora’s winery at Mitra to find out about the varieties earmarked for the next planting. This strategy soon put an end to uncertainties regarding the grapevine varieties issue, which often because of embarrassment, results in the planting of French grapevine varieties. A new, progressive generation of oenologists (of whom Portugal Ramos and J. de Almeida are two examples) opted for autochthonous grapevine varieties. What is more, varietal wine became an important subject for discussion, something it hardly ever was before.


PLANSEL/University of Évora Project

DAAD financing of a study visit to Geisenheim Research Center’s grapevine breeding and microvinification departments for Colaço Rosário


JNICT Project (1986)

Technology to determine the quality of wine produced from autochthonous Portuguese grapevine varieties. Participants: FH Geisenheim (RFA), University of Évora, and PLANSEL



Establishing propagation plantations for propagation material for Portuguese white wine varieties (1986), Colaço do Rosário, Mota Barroso, Vida rural, No. 223, January 1986. (Hans‑­‐Jörg Böhm did not contribute to this publication.) This article published the ranking of grapevine varieties together with assessments of Portuguese varieties by international experts.

The best of Portugal’s 1986 cask wines (1988), Hans Jörg Böhm, Alles über Wein, No. 2/88