Five grapes to watch in the Douro

1. Vinhão (Sousão)

Image result for Vinhão (Sousão)Of all the lesser-known grapes in the Douro, it is Sousão that is causing the most excitement among the Symingtons (Vinhão is its name in the variety’s native region, Vinho Verde).

Traditionally used in the Douro to augment the colour in Port blends, Charles Symington told db that the grape brings not only “amazing colour” to fortified wines, but also acidity.

Concurring, head of the company Paul Symington explained the grape’s importance in the Douro. “We like Sousão for its acidity: acidity is at a premium in our vineyards because we never lack ripeness.”

He also said that the grape performs best when co-fermented with Touriga Nacional. “When Sousão is fermented with Touriga Nacional in a lagare it makes some of the most exciting Ports I’ve ever tasted, because you get the elegance and violets from the Touriga and then the peppery flavour and acidity from the Sousão.”

As proof of the grape’s quality potential, Sousão reputedly makes up a significant proportion of Quinta do Noval’s ungrafted Nacional vineyard, which is the source of some of the most long-lived and sought-after vintage Ports in the world.

Charles said that he plans to increase Sousão plantings to around 15%, while Paul recorded the recent rise of the grape in the company’s vineyards, “We now have as much as 15 hectares of Sousão, but we had none eight years ago.”

However, it will only ever play a blending role in fortified wine. Charles explained, “I’m very excited by Sousão because of its colour and acidity but I wouldn’t use more than 5% in a Port and I don’t like it in table wine – Sousão’s tannins are too aggressive for table wine.”

Viticulturally, Sousão benefits from its ability to retain acidity even in extremely hot years in the Douro’s dry climate.

To read more about the Symington’s experimental vineyard and to see the grape varieties planted within it, click here.

2 Responses to “Five grapes to watch in the Douro”

  1. Jason Brandt Lewis says:

    It shall, of course, be interesting to see what comes from this over the next few years and decades. In California, as I’m sure the Symingtons know, Paul Masson used Sousão to produce their famous “Port”(-styled wine), and it was quite tasty.

  2. Great article in order to educate the wine enthusiast all over the world about the Portuguese grapes and what makes our wines so special.
    Watch out for theis year’s harvest!

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