Castelao grape is a dark skinned variety of grape which is used in the process of red wine making and found most exclusively in Portugal.
This grape, amongst the most planted ones and amongst the most popular ones, is used for the production of not only varietal wines, but also in case of blended ones, what Portugal is exclusively known for.
Regions where Castelao is grown
The finest Castelao wine comes from the region of Setubal Peninsula, which falls just to the south of Lisbon.
In this region, the terroir is extremely conducive for the production of rich concentrated wines.
Along with this, this grape is exclusively planted in the southern part of Portugal along with the central part of the country in small quantities on the banks of Douro, where it is used for the production of Port Blend.
Characteristics of Castelao grape
Castelao grape has several synonyms and is most often referred to by the name of Periquita, which literally translates to parakeet in Portuguese.
This name comes from the vineyards of Cova de Periquita which are planted by José Maria da Fonseca.
Along with this, this grape is also referred to by synonyms such as Bastardo Casticoor Trincadeira in the other parts of the country and this name bears no resemblance to the grape varieties of Trousseau or Tinta Amarela.
Viticulture of Castelao grape
Castelao grape is extremely popular thanks to its hardiness. This grape thrives in environments which are arid, non-conducive and sunny.
Though this grape prefers the warmer climes, it does produce decent quality of wine, even from grapes cultivated in cooler, more humid parts of the country.
Characteristics of Castelao wine
On the southern coast of Castelao, where the soils are sandy, the low yielding vines of Castelao produce wines which are not only tannic, but also are full bodied and extremely rustic having a tinge of fruity flavour which appears like the flavour of a wild fruit.
These wines are often aged in the oak for a period of five to ten years and once done; the wine produced is of extremely premium quality which gives out an aftertaste of smoke and wood.
In case of the wines made from the grapes grown in the central part of Portugal, due to the calcarrous nature of the soil, it produces lighter and fruitier wine which need not be aged due to the balanced taste and can be consumed early.
Due to the high skin to pulp ratio for Castelao, the wine tends to have a tough taste with high tannin content.
Also, the wine from this grape has an excellent colour and structure and when blended with other wines, the rough edges of this wine tend to soften a bit, making the wine much more approachable, especially when it is not aged.
And this is the precise reason why this blend is preferred as a blending partner in so many grape variety wines.
This wine is often blended with varieties like Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional.
Flavours and Aromas of Castelao grape
The wine made from the Castelao grape tends to give out colours which appear medium rubyish at its core and crimson on its rim.
On the nose, this wine is quite aromatic and gives out the flavours of tart cherry fruit and dusky raspberry.
On the palate, this wine gives out flavours of red cherry fruit and juicy raspberry along with some stewed berry flavours.
When it comes to the structure, this wine tends to be a full bodied, having a high acidic content and low tannicity.
Overall, this wine, thanks to its earthiness which balances the flavours, is a fairly simple wine having nice fruity flavours along with a distinct bitterness at the end of the taste.
Food Pairings with Castelao Wine
This wine can ideally be paired with herbal scented recipes like the vegetable stew garnished with herbs or dishes with a lot of capsaicin (peppers) like the ones with pasillas and anchos.
This wine is best suited for Mexican cuisine, especially Enchiladas and goes well with vegetables and spices like tomatoes, onions and peppers.
This wine is a must try with mushroom risotto or red pasta or black beans.
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