Rufete is a black grape from Portugal’s north-east, where it is better known as Tinta Pinheira.
Rufete is a variety whose grapes are characterised by good acidity and medium-high tannin levels. If allowed to mature, grapes will be of high aromatic level. Flavours are of light, red and black cherries, raspberries and possibly also strawberries.
Like many other Portuguese varieties, Rufete is mainly used for blending. In Spain one common blending partner is Tempranillo. In Portugal, it is often Alfrocheiro. Rufete is also used for producing Port. Finding dry varietals is however not so easy.
The best expressions of Rufete you’re likely to find in the sub-region Pinhel, located south of the Douro region. It used to be an appellation (IPR) of its own, but is since 2005 part of the Beira DOC. You can also keep a look out for wines from Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo and Cova da Beira.
A Rufete – Alfrocheiro blend is excellent with grilled pork or lamb.
The wine is best served at 14°C/57°F – 16°C/61°F.
Where is it grown?
Rufete is found mainly in the eastern and northern parts of Portugal’s Beira Interior wine region. With its 4.183 ha/10,337 ac, it is the tenth most planted variety in the country. Its acreage increased with seventy-nine percent between 2000 and 2010.
Across the border, in the western part of the Castilla y Lyon region, you find almost ninety percent of Spain’s 650 ha/1,606 ac. Rufete is the fifty-eight most planted grape in the country. It decreased in acreage with thirty-nine percent between 2000 and 2010.
Rufete is documented as a cross between the green grape Perepinhão Portalegre and the black grape Molar, placing its origin in central eastern Portugal. It is thought to be an old variety but its documentation is only one-hundred and fifty years old.