The red grape variety comes from the Iberian Peninsula, probably from Spain. Synonyms are Fernão Pires Tinta, Jaen, Jaen du Dão, Jaen Galego, Jaen Galeno, Loureiro Tinto(Portugal); Jaén Tinto, Mencía Pajaral, Mencía Pequeno(Spain). It must not be confused with the varieties Juan García, Jaén Tinto and Loureiro Tinto, despite the fact that synonyms or morphological similarities appear to indicate this. According to DNA analyses carried out in 2015, it is probably a natural cross between Alfrocheiro x Patorra. The variety was first mentioned in the province of León in north-western Spain at the end of the 19th century, where it is thought to have originated. It is believed that it was brought to the Dão region of Portugal by pilgrims on their way back from Santiago de Compostela. Many genetic variations of the variety in Spain indicate its Spanish origin, which is regarded as an indication of its place of origin.
The early ripening vine is susceptible to powdery and downy mildew and botrytis. It produces colourful, alcohol-rich red wines with aromas of raspberries and blackberries, as well as storage potential. The variety is mainly cultivated in the regions of Galicia and Castilla y León, but also in Asturias and Catalonia. It is authorised in numerous Spanish DO areas, including Bierzo, Monterrei, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro and Valdeorras. The total Spanish cultivated area is 8,204 hectares. In Portugal, it is mainly cultivated in the two areas of Dão and Douro, where it is grown on a total of 2,454 hectares. In 2010, the variety occupied a total of 10,658 hectares of vineyards, with a sharp downward trend (ten years earlier it had been 13,138 hectares). This puts it in 66th place in the worldwide grape variety ranking.
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)