Bairrada comes from the word ‘barro’ which means ‘clay’ and refers to the generally clay heavy soils that are found in the region. There can be patches of sandy and granitic soils that add to the minerality of the white wines especially. Bairrada has the smallest average vineyard size per owner.
This is a very important area for sparkling wines and red table wines.
Baga is the traditional local red grape and comprises around 85% of red grape plantings. It makes tannic wines that can have high acidity if under-ripe, but if ripened and handled well the Baga can give rich, dense fruity reds that age extremely well and can be elegant wines of great complexity.
Since 2003, a multiplicity of other grapes has been permitted in DOC Bairrada wines – national grapes such as Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro as well as the international likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Merlot.
Red Bairrada these days comes in a bewildering array of styles. Predominant amongst white grapes is the fragrant Maria Gomes (also known as Fernão Pires), while Arinto, Bical, Cercial e Rabo de Ovelha can be made into steely and at times minerally, long-lived whites.