Castelão – not Periquita

Grape Varieties

Castelão – not Periquita


Periquita means Parakeet, an unscientific name for some smaller, long-tailed parrots. One of José Maria da Fonseca’s vineyards had these parrots, which is why the vineyard was named Cova da Periquita. The wine initially made from grapes from this vineyard was thus named Periquita. This wine, made mainly from the Castelão grape variety, was a great success. Therefore, its fame spread to the grape variety, and people began to call Castelão Periquita. However, Periquita is a vineyard, a wine and a brand – not a grape variety.

grape variety castelao 2
Blackcurrant, prune and tar are the aromas illustrated. The bar chart shows structure between 0 and 9 – acidity 5 out of 9, tannins 5 out of 9, alcohol 7 out of 9 and aroma intensity 9 out of 9. And finally, a map showing the main growing areas – Península de Setúbal, Lisboa, Tejo and Alentejo.
  • Types of wine: red.
  • Wine structure: medium acidity, medium tannins and high alcohol.
  • Wine aromas: very intense of red and black currant, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, mulberry, prune, flowers, jam, game and tar.
  • Synonyms: Bastardo Castico, Bastardo Espanhol, Castelão Francês, Castellam, Castellao, Castellao Portugues, Castico, Catelão, João de Santarém, João Santarém, Mortágua, Periquita, Piriquita, Piriquito, Santarém and Trincadeira.

Origin in the south

Castelão originated in the southern half of Portugal from a natural cross between Alfrocheiro from the Dão region and Mourisco Branco from the south-western Iberian Peninsula. This means that it is the sibling of Camarate, Casculho, Cornifesto, Jampal, Malvasia Preta, Moreto and Tinta Gorda. Castelão is an ancient grape variety whose first written mention dates back to 1531.

Grown in the south

Southern Portugal (Península de Setúbal, Lisboa, Tejo and Alentejo) is the main growing area. The total area under cultivation in Portugal is large, but the trend is downward.

Moderately warm and rainy climate

Castelão is sensitive to cool and rainy weather, which can easily lead to the failure of flowering or grape development. Conversely, too hot and dry a climate produces thin and one-dimensional wines, a clear example of this being the wines from the Alentejo. However, the Palmela sub-region in the Península de Setúbal region seems to have the perfect middle ground, and the wines from here are also the best.

Incidentally, the vines are only susceptible to the caterpillars of the vine weevil, which attack the flowers and grapes. Castelão is thus a relatively robust and hardy grape variety. This, combined with the regular and high yields from the rather large and dense clusters, has made the variety very popular with wine growers.

Recommended Castelão wines

From the Península de Setúbal region:

From the Lisboa region:

  • Ramilo Vinhas Velhas Tinto (Casal do Ramilo).

From the Alentejo region: