Antão Vaz is viewed as one of the best green grapes in Portugal, producing nice varietal wines in one of the country’s warmest regions.
Antão Vaz is recognised by its lively aromas, with hints of ripe tropical fruits, tangerine peel and a touch of mineral. The wines normally display good structure and body.
The variety prefers deep and dry soils; one very good reason why it fits the area of central south Portugal very well.
Grapes picked early will give higher acidity which subsequently makes it possible to produce a crispier wine.
A longer period of ripening before picking will lower the acidity level but instead increase sugar levels, resulting in a wine with a higher alcohol level. The grape is well suited for storing in oak barrels, especially with grapes left to mature the whole season.
Most wines made from Antão Vaz are produced for consumption within one to two years. In the Alentejo sub regions of Vidigueira and Évora you can find wines of great complexity worth storing in your cellar for a few more years to allow the fruit characters to evolve even more.
It is however not unusual that, due to low acidity levels, you can find Antão Vaz blended, above all with Roupeiro and Arinto.
A steel tank fermented Antão Vaz will pair nicely with cooked shellfish or grilled lean fish (such as bass, bream, sole and flounder). It is best served at 8°C/46°F – 10°C/50°F.
If you instead prefer to pair with a wine that has fermented in oak, grilled or roasted, oily fish (such as tuna, salmon, sardines, trout, grouper, etc.) will be really nice. Alternatively, grilled shellfish with a garlic, onions or chilli seasoning will also be a very nice pairing.
With the oaked version, a serving temperature of 10°C/50°F – 11°C/52°F is recommended.
Where is it grown?
Antão Vaz is one of many grapes native to Portugal and furthermore grown only in Portugal. In 2010, there were plantings of 1.252 ha/3,074 ac, making it the twenty-sixth most planted grape in the country. It is obviously an appreciated variety. The acreage has tripled since 2000, and all of this has taken place in the Alentejo region. In 2010, Alentejo held 1.202 ha/2,970 ac.
Antão Vaz has a reputation of having been a highly-appreciated variety in Alentejo, especially in the sub-region of Vidigueira, for a very long time.
The variety is thought to be of old age. DNA testing has shown that it is related to Cayetana Blanca, a Spanish green grape. There are also reports of another grape, João Domingos, a Portuguese black grape, has been involved. However, no DNA results to confirm this relation has yet been provided.