Alfrocheiro is a black grape grown almost exclusively in Portugal’s Dão and Alentejo regions. It is appreciated for producing an “easy to drink” wine, as well as for its coloring capabilities when used for blending.
Alfrocheiro produces a fruit driven wine, generally characterised also by a nice balance between acidity, alcohol and tannins.
Aromas are mainly from dark skinned berries, such as blackberries. It is not unusual to also find strawberries in there. Colouring is deeper red when from Dão compared to the Alentejo wines.
Its susceptibility to various diseases such as powdery mildew and grey rot, means it thrives in sunny and dry areas. Afrocheiro is also known for keeping high acidity levels in combination with a richness in sugar, which has attracted attention from growers in the warmer Alentejo region, further south in Portugal.
Alfrocheiro can be found both as a varietal and in blends. When blended it is often together with Touriga Nacional. It is also used for producing rosé, and, occasionally, also white wine. Varietal reds are nicely balanced, rich in aromas, and usually around 12,5-13% vol alcohol.
Alfrocheiro is nice as it is, on its own in a glass. If you chose to pair it with food, veal or pork will be a good choice. Serve it at 12°C/54°F – 14°C/57°F.
If you’re having it in a Touriga Nacional blend, best temperature is, depending on the blend’s proportions, likely to be 14°C/57°F – 16°C/61°F.
Where is it grown?
Alfrocheiro has, with its 1.180 ha/2,920 ac in 2010, seen its plantings being more than doubled compared to ten years earlier. It is now ranked as the thirty-first most planted grape in Portugal.
Its heart land remains in Dão in Beira Litoral with some forty percent of the total plantings. It has also found a home in the Alentejo wine region in Portugal’s Central South (with thirty-five percent of the plantings), and Beira Interior (east of Dão, with some fifteen percent of the plantings). The growth between 2000 and 2010 has taken place in all three regions, but above all in Dão.
There is also a very small planting (7 ha/17 ac) reported from the Canary Islands in Spain.
One synonym, Tinta Francisca de Viseu (meaning “French red from Viseu”, and Viseu being a municipality in the sub region Dão Lafões), suggests that Alfrochiera could be an immigrant from France. It is however officially recognised as being native to the Dão wine region.