This variety is traditionally cultivated in the Dão region, where it represents the white variety par excellence. It is a relatively recent choice, going back a little over 50 years. This may explain why it occupies only 250 hectares of vineyard, coming behind other emblematic Dão varieties such as Malvasia Fina or even Bical.
Nowadays it can be found, here and there, in other regions. This variety exhibits average, regular output, not being very susceptible to hydric stress but moderately susceptible to coulure, mildew, oidium and the green vine cicada. Susceptible to erinose and grape rotting. It adapts to every kind of pruning, but its hedge is hard to keep straight. Young shoots break easily in the wind. It favours granite-derived soils, deep and dry. Tendrils are located on the internodes, and maturation occurs in mid-season.
The resulting wines are citrus-coloured, aromatic, fine and elegant. In the mouth, beside the complexity, stands out a great balance between alcohol and acidity. This variety originates wines with longevity and good aging capacity.
Malvasia Fina is traditionally grown in the regions of Douro, Dão and Madeira. It is a very old variety whose origin is unknown. It is probably Roman – or even Greek, since it was mentioned as far back as the 14th century. It belongs to a large ‘family´: at least another 12 Malvasias are known.
Its output is average to high, and regular. Very sensitive to hydric stress, which shrivels the grape and causes loss of leaves. Sensitive to magnesium and boron defficiency, coulure, oidium and grape rotting. Moderately susceptible to mildew and the green vine cicada. It adapts to all kinds of pruning, and prefers deep but well drained soils. In maritime areas of fertile soil, a rootstock of moderate strength is recommended; its maturation is precocious.
The wine is elegant and fine, but has low levels of intensity and compexity, both in aroma and taste. It has good aging potential.
It is essentially a blending grape which, in cooler regions and when harvested early, works as a basis for creating sparkling wines. It has earned its credentials in the regions of Távora-Varosa and Lamego.
In the granitic, poor and well drained soils of Santar Vila Jardim, it finds the ideal conditions to express its full potential.
Alvarinho is a white variety originating in the Minho river basin. It is predominantly grown in the Melgaço and Monção sub-regions, where it reveals and attains its maximum potential, but nowadays it is cultivated all over the country. It is also the prevailing variety of the Rias Bajas (Galicia, Spain).
This variety is of moderate strength, but very rustic. Very fertile, it often presents 3 inflorescences per shoot, originating very small clusters, leafy and somewhat compact, which makes it a variety of low productivity. It requires dry terrain to boost the quality of the wine it originates. This, in addition to the acidic nature of the soils on which it is grown, makes it well adapted to the 196-17 rootstock. Rootstocks such as S04 or R99 may be used depending on the terrain (cooler and drier, respectively). When ripe, its grapes attain high sugar levels, while maintaining high acidity.
This variety produces well-structured, elegant wines, with a lively acid character, and a prevalence of citrus fruit (sometimes tropical). Its aroma is intense, distinctive, delicate and complex – ranging from quince, peach, banana, lemon, passion fruit and lychee (fruity character), to orange blossom and violet (floral character), hazelnut and walnut (almond character), and honey (caramel character). Its flavour is complex, smooth, rounded, harmonious, full-bodied and persistent. Although its reputation rests on the production of still wines – for which this region is most distinguished – it has also achieved excellent results in sparkling wines and brandies.
This is considered to be the noblest Portuguese red variety. Thanks to its qualities, it has already conquered considerable areas in Europe, Australia and the United States, especially in California. In Portugal, it can be found in every winemaking region, from the Douro to the Alentejo and the Algarve. It is perhaps in the Dão region, nonetheless, that it exhibits all its category.
Clones from the Dão region have greater genetic heterogeneity, in quantitative and qualitative terms, than those from the Douro, leading us to believe that its origins lie in the Dão region. It is thought that its origin may be in the “Tourigo” variety.
Its clusters are small and elongated; the grapes – containing a hard pulp, uncoloured and with a peculiar taste – are small and rounded, its black-blue skin covered in strong pruina. This variety yields average output, which can be increased through the use of selected materials and adequate shaping. Not very sensitive to mildew, oidium and the green vine cicada. Average susceptibility to magnesium defficiency and grey rot. Sensitive to the dead arm of grapevine, hydric and thermal stress, often losing leaves under these conditions. This variety is very demanding when it comes to training. It matures in mid-season.
It originates complex, full-bodied wines, of very high quality, featuring backberry and wildflower aromas, with great aging potential. Together with Tinta Roriz, Jaén and Alfrocheiro, it is present in the Dão region, associated with the production of blended wines.
In the House of Santar (Santar Vila Jardim), it finds the ideal terroir to express all its class and, when combined with small quantities of the Alfrocheiro variety, it originates wines with even greater finesse. When additionally combined with the Merlot variety, it gives rise to wines of great complexity and elegance.
The name of this grape variety is relatively recent (dated later than 1909), which suggests that, in the past, it may have had another name or even have come from abroad. It is also known as Tinta Francesa de Viseu (Pereira e Duarte, 1986), which might be misleading as to its origin. Although it is present in foreign ampelographic collections, it has never been detected to have synonymity with varieties from other countries.
It is currently cultivated in Bairrada, Ribatejo, Alentejo and traditionally in the Dão, where its origins presumably lie and its full potential is expressed.
This variety stands erect, with medium vigour and some tendency towards developing secondary shoots. It shows average productivity and early maturation.
It is very sensitive to oidium, grey rot and the green vine cicada. It is also sensitive to hydric stress, boron defficiency and sun scald. Since it is very fertile, even in its basal buds, close pruning is recommended. It can, however, adapt to any kind of pruning and prefers sandy and unfertile soils; it does not adapt well to compact and argillaceous soils.
The wines it originates are among the most heavily coloured in the Dão region, with intense grenadine colour and violet reflections. It has a fruity aroma with good acidic balance, and a full-bodied, delicate and lasting flavour.
Its aging potential is good, especially when new oak is utilized. It is a multifaceted variety, allowing even the production of high quality sparkling wine.
In the edaphoclimatic conditions of Santar Vila Jardim, with its poor, granitic soils, it fully expresses its potential and, alongside the other varieties present in the region, makes it possible to create wines of very high quality and great elegance.
The Alicante Bouschet variety was created by Henry Bouschet in France in 1855, in the Languedoc region, by crossing the Petit Bouschet and Grenache varieties, and is also known as Alicante Henry Bouschet.
Nowadays it is grown mainly in Spain and Portugal, achieving its greatest prominence in the Alentejo region. It is a teinturier variety, with high productivity and late maturation. It shows some resistance to oidium, but it is sensitive to mildew, canker, dead arm and other trunk diseases.
It does not adapt to fertile soils and cool climates, since these cause defficient grape maturation. Although vigorous, it demands close pruning, due to its high fertility. Overproduction increases its sensitivity to hydric stress.
The wines it originates show very concentrated colour and are rich in phenolic compounds. Its vinous aroma is very evident, evoking well-ripened prune jam.
In the poor soils of Santar Vila Jardim and the climate of this Dão area, this variety finds the conditions for excellent maturation, as long as overproduction is avoided.
The Merlot variety, descended from Cabernet Franc, just like the Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties, originated in the French region of Bordeaux. Its use in winemaking in that region was first referred in 1784. Together with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it belongs in the group of classic Bordeaux grapes. It later spread throughout the world, and has become one of the most cultivated varieties at the global level. Its great international success is partly due to its great adaptability to different types of soil and climate, e.g. cold climates and arid, argillaceous, and even rocky soils, generally permitting excellent maturation levels. Its clusters are medium-sized, and the grapes are thin-skinned and blue-violet in colour. It features early maturation, and its grapes show a great concentration of sugars, resulting from its leaves’ intense green colour and a correspondingly high photosynthesis rate. Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, although not just as intense, it originates wines with high alcoholic and low tannin content – strongly fruity, with notes of red fruit such as cherry and raspberry. They are full-bodied, rich in colour and low in acidity, with complex and elegant aromas. In the mouth they usually present a smooth, rather velvety texture.
On the Casa de Santar (Santar Vila Jardim) terroir, the Merlot variety finds a top spot for expressing its full potential. In fact the climate in Nelas – Mediterranean, with some mainland influence – providing warm days and cold nights during maturation, together with its granitic soils – well drained, with low fertility and low hydric storage – allows this variety to mature under moderate hydric stress, enhancing all its elegance and enological character. In several places, this variety works very well in blends, e.g. with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (in Bordeaux) or with Sangiovese and even Syrah (in Tuscany). In Nelas too, it perfectly combines with the premium red variety of the Dão region, Portugal’s flagship in the world: Touriga Nacional.