Azal is a green, high acidity grape from Portugal, which often is used for increasing other Vinho Verde wines’ crispness.
Apart from its acidity, this variety is characterized by citrus and green apple notes. A varietal Azal can also be a bit fizzy from both high acidity and unresolved CO2.
Azal is mainly used for blending, where it above all contributes with its high acidity levels. You will also find varietal Azal wines, especially in its heartland in Vinho Verde’s sub-regions Penafel, Amarante, and Basto.
Excellent food pairing for a varietal Azal wine is fish, seafood or white meat. Azal is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
Where is it grown?
With its 1.072 ha/2,649 ac, Azal is the thirty-second most planted grape in Portugal. It has however decreased with 2/3 between 2000 and 2010. The plantings are almost entirely in the north, in Vinho Verde and surrounding wine regions.
A small planting is also reported from Alentejo, where the grape potentially could perform well. This however requires that it can maintain its high acidity level in the warm climate it will have to confront there.
In spite of an hypothesis that it could originate from north western Spain (e.g. Rías Baixas), there are no reports of plantings from there.
Neither are there any plantings of Azal reported from other countries, e.g. Azal is one of many Portuguese varieties that has remained within the country’s border.
Azal most likely is a grape indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula’s north-east, e.g. in northern Portugal or north-western Spain.