Wines of Bairrada, Portugal
Bairrada is a small wine province situated just south of the famous Porto region and in the north-central area of Portugal, it is the westernmost sub-region in the administrative province of Beiras. The area is renowned for its sparkling wines just as much as for deep colored tannic reds and an emerging rosé production. Bairrada is unique in Portugal for growing over 75% Baga grapes, and is renowned for producing Portugal’s premier wine classification.
Close to the Atlantic Ocean, Bairrada is bordered to the east by the mountainous Dão region; though geographically diverse, Bairrada can be described as a hilly region, with its vineyards planted on flatter areas. Situated at the foot of the Caramulo and Buçaco hills, the region’s climate is favorable for grape growing. The Atlantic Ocean currents have a tempering effect on the hot continental climate, bringing abundant rainfalls and cool winds into the region, making it propitious for growing more acidic grapes. Due to the high humidity, long ripening seasons and colder summer days, the region best-known for its sparkling wines made from grape varieties like Baga, Maria Gomes, Arinto and Bical.
Main grape varieties:
- Whites: Maria Gomes, Bical;
- Reds: Baga, Touriga Nacional
- Rose: Mateus Rosé
Rooted in clay limestone and sandy soils, the terroir of Bairrada deeply influences the taste are aroma of the wines produced here. These infertile soils allow grapes to maintain their pure fragrance, growing fully bodied and beautifully-tasting grapes. The cool climate contributes to the acidity of the grapes, making the region a shrine for exquisite sparkling wines. While vintners of Bairrada grow native and international grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot), Baga, the most famous native grape of the region, is meticulously grown to be turned into a rich, complex and fruity wine. Baga-based wines are usually very tannic as well, with a late ripening, a consequence of their small raisins with dense coatings.
The wines of Bairrada are generally high in acidity, deep colored and bold, making them excellent for festive occasions. Renowned as a red-wine powerhouse, the region gained international attention for smooth, suave and concentrated wines, that age very well for two decades or more. With a production of over 75% red grapes, Bairrada wears Baga as a trademark, a grape that requires full ripeness when picked, and extended barrel maturation. As there is an increased demand for softer and fruitier wines, vignerons use Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to soften the texture of Baga blends. Mateus Rose used to be a very popular choice in the area, but winemakers now prefer to grow an increasing amount of white varieties, (mostly Maria Gomes and Bical). Mostly used for still wines, white styles have a citrus-blossom character with fruity accents. While Maria Gomes is the most planted white variety in Portugal, Bical is more popular in the region; after being aged for at least five years, Bical’s remarkable traits are the aromatic qualities similar to those of aged Riesling.
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-Certified Sommelier (CMS)
Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM