Azal Branco grapes
Over 5,100 hectares of land is planted with this variety of grapes. It is used in the making of white Vinho Verde. It is known by different names in different regions.
Gadelhudo, EsPinheira and Carvalha are some its names. Azal is a name which is common to both red and white variety of this grape.
The plucking of buds is done towards the end of the season and kept in oak barrels for fermentation. Plucking is to be done only after the berries have ripened fully.
This may take longer than other grape varieties. Mostly wines blended with Azal branco are to be consumed young. Finding a varietal wine is rare, but it is still made by some of the winemakers.
Wine lovers who prefer acidic wines are mostly attracted to this variety of Portuguese wines. It has high alcohol content.
Local people of Minho and nearby areas are deeply in favour of this wine and make efforts to keep the variety growing as it is a source of major income to many of the farmers.
Winemakers are also experimenting on the grape to make it more useful and develop new wines with the Azal Branco grape.
But until now no method is developed to make the grapes ripen faster, which is leading to the degrading demand in the market. Yet this wine is being ordered worldwide by people.
Though it is not very famous but it is also not among those wines which are on the verge of extinction. This is a wine that you must at least try!
Origin of Azal branco
Like most of the wines, the exact origin on Azal branco is not confirmed. It has been growing on the Portugal grounds since ages and has been cherished by a number of wine lovers.
Recent surveys have shown that the winemakers are shifting from Azal branco to grapes like Alvarhino as they are more aromatic and flavoured.
High quality wines like Vinho Verde are blending this grape because of its high acidic and frizzy nature. Many other wines are being made since a number of years from this grape variety and are being sold widely in the market.
Where late ripening has it disadvantage, there is also a major advantage. The taste the berries gain from it is unmatchable!
Features of Azal Branco
Azal branco grapes are green skinned. They grow in medium sized compact bunches and berries are large sized. The berries of Azal ripen in late season. The Azal branco grape is known for its high acidity.
Wines made from this variety are preferred to be consumed young. These wines are zingy. Due to its late ripening, Azal branco’s demand is going down in Portugal grape variety as other aromatic grapes which ripen easily are being preferred.
Varietal wines of this grape are light yellow coloured and give flavours of orange citrus and green apple. Aging may bring up the false taste to this wine, but the young flavours are cherished by almost all wine tasters.
The citric flavour and aroma this variety has is among the best high acidic wines produced in the region. By one name or the other you will find wine made from this grape in almost all the wine shops in the region.
Due to its high acidic content, Azal branco wines can be paired best with salty dishes. They can also be taken with vegetable salads.
In some regions it is taken with green pepper with stuffed cheese. The wine can go along with dishes like sushi.
It can also be enjoyed with cauliflower puree with olives which is a famous dish of north. Most of the food item pairs well due to acidic nature of the wine!
Though this grape variety has a huge plantation in the Portugal but lately its popularity has been decreasing due to its ripening conditions.
This wine is worth tasting and no one should miss a chance while it is still being used in wines. It is being sold in wine shops and is also available for online ordering.
Editor-in-Chief and Wine Writer
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂