Aragonez – the most cultivated

Grape Varieties

Aragonez – the most cultivated

Legend has it that Aragonez is closely related to or the same grape variety as Pinot Noir. The pilgrimage route from France to Santiago de Compostela in north-eastern Spain passes through Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Monks on pilgrimage from the Cîteaux monastery in Burgundy are said to have brought Pinot Noir vines with them, and that is how Aragonez came to Spain. DNA analysis, however, completely contradicts this legend.

grape variety aragonez 2
Prunes, tobacco and black pepper are the aromas illustrated. The bar chart shows structure between 0 and 9 – acidity 3 out of 9, tannins 6 out of 9, alcohol 7 out of 9 and aroma intensity 9 out of 9. And finally, a map showing the main growing areas – Douro, Alentejo, Dão, Trás-os-Montes and Beira Interior.
  • Types of wine: red and rosé.
  • Wine structure: low acidity, medium to high tannins and high alcohol.
  • Wine aromas: very intense of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, plum, prune, fig, leather, tobacco, wildflower, black pepper and vanilla.
  • Synonyms: Abundante, Aragón, Aragones, Aragonês, Aragonêza, Arinto Tinto, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Santiago.

Origin in Spain

Aragonez originated in Aragón, Spain, from a natural cross between Albillo Mayor from Ribera del Duero and Benedicto of unknown origin. In Aragón, written mentions can be traced back to the 13th century.

Alentejo was the first wine region in Portugal to grow Aragonez – the grape is mentioned in documents dating as early as 1515. From the Alentejo region, Aragonez spread to the Douro region in the early 19th century.

The first cultivations in the Douro were probably on the Quinta do Roriz estate, which is why the grape variety was given the regional name Tinta Roriz. It was not until the replanting programmes of the 1980s that Tinta Roriz gained ground. It is now the region’s second most widely planted grape variety, after Touriga Franca.

Grown inland

Portugal’s interior (Douro, Alentejo, Dão, Trás-os-Montes and Beira Interior) are the main growing area for Aragonez. However, relatively large plantations are also found in the Lisbon region. The total area under cultivation in Portugal is very large, but the trend is downward. Outside Portugal, Aragonez is mainly grown in its native Spain, under the name Tempranillo, and in Argentina.

Easy to grow despite several threats

The vine buds late and thus avoids possible spring frosts. The grapes ripen early, avoiding the risks of rainy and damp autumn weather and the diseases this can bring. This makes the grape relatively easy to grow and, therefore, popular with wine growers.

Nevertheless, there are some threats to Aragonez. Powdery mildew easily attacks the grapes, and grape leaf moths and vine leafhoppers easily attack the vine. In addition, it is easily affected by mineral deficiencies.

In Portugal, quality varies enormously, but it never reaches the heights of Rioja and Ribera del Duero in Spain. The biggest problem is the naturally high yields, which produce thin and one-dimensional wines. The grapes are also susceptible to pre-harvest rain, diluting colour and power. Many vineyards have also been found to be too hot, creating unbalanced wines. So winemakers get the best wines from naturally low-yielding and relatively cool vineyards where the risk of pre-harvest rain is low.

Recommended Aragonez wines

From the Douro region:

From the Alentejo region:

From the Dão region:

From the Beira Interior region: