Author: Kristian Kielmayer , Ágnes Herczeg
It was previously known as Kékoportó or Oportó. There are two theories as to its origin. One states that it originated in the German-speaking world, while the other claims it has Portuguese origins and only reached Austria in the 18th century.
It has round, moderately large, three-lobed leaves, which tend to turn red early, and medium-sized, relatively dense clusters. It is a high-yielding, early ripening variety and the father of the Blauburger crossing. The name (Kék)oportó refers to a geographical location (the city of Porto in Portugal), so it had to be officially renamed to the closest possibility, which ended up being its German synonym.
The variety is also very widespread today in Germany (Pfalz, Württemberg, Rheinhessen), while its area under cultivation is constantly declining in Austria, and it can now be found almost only in Lower Austria (Weinviertel, Thermenregion). It is grown on 960 hectares in Hungary, most of which is located in Villány, where it is still the second most planted variety after Cabernet Sauvignon. There are over 100 hectares of it in the Kunság wine district, whereas it is much less important in other regions. Portugieser is often found in blends and it is popular everywhere for rosé production.
The Kunság wine district produces light, fresh, fruity wines, with soft tannins and fresh red berry fruit, designed for early consumption. Villány Portugieser also has a similar drinking window. It is often released as a “new wine” and sometimes produced using carbonic maceration, thus further emphasising its fruit and primary aromas. Villány has also created a separate category for Portugieser and Portugieser-dominant blends, under the name “Redy”. The name is a pun on the English words red and ready. Portugieser must make up at least 51% of the blend. It is youthful and fruity with primary aromas and some floral and spicy notes. These are balanced by medium acidity, soft tannins and a light body, making it an easy-drinking wine. These light-bodied, fruity wines are best consumed young as they do not generally stand the test of time.
Portugieser grape bunch and leaf
Portugieser usually makes youthful wines with relatively deep colour and soft tannins. It is generally fruity and light in style, but its structure also combines lightness with firmness, which means it can be appreciated all year round. It is often found as a new wine and is considered a wine for everyday drinking and meals. It’s a great choice for baked vegetable dishes, light roast meats, stews, pepper ratatouille, potato gratin, lasagne, pizza and pasta with tomato sauce as well as with other light Hungarian-style dishes. Choose wines from a recent vintage and consume within a couple of years to best appreciate its fresh style. However, there are also very high-quality, aged Portugieser wines that benefit from some bottle ageing. It usually contributes vibrant fruit to blends. Always store in a cool place, at a constant temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat, to best preserve its aromas, as the wines oxidise relatively quickly. Serve just below room temperature at about 14-16°C in a tulip-shaped red wine glass. Ingredients that best match the flavour and texture of wines made from Portugieser include root vegetables, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, aubergines, tomatoes, mature cheeses, duck, game birds and offal as well as pork, veal and lamb dishes.