Beira Interior

Beira Interior

Beira.jpgThese high, granite uplands over by the Spanish border include some of Portugal's highest and most impressive mountains.

Dramatic mountainous uplands dominate the border of this region. With Spain in the east, the area is strewn with granite boulders, and dotted with ancient villages and fortified towns.



Region

The new Vinho Regional Terras da Beira stretches from the medieval town of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo in the north to Castelo Branco in the south, from the wild eastern uplands by the Spanish border westward to the great barrier of the Serra da Estrela. The region encompasses the three enclaves of DOC Beira Interior: two up in the craggy north, around the towns of Pinhel and Castel Rodrigo, as well as Cova da Beira in the gentler countryside of the south, where grapes ripen more easily than in the vineyards on the mountain slopes.

New roads have drawn the outside world closer to the Beira Interior in recent years, but this is still a delightfully rural and unspoilt region. Wide vistas sweeping from moorland to forest, high crags to gentle valleys filled with fruit trees, and hillsides and wild mountains where sheep and goats graze. The countryside is strewn with granite boulders, dotted with ancient villages and fortified towns built of granite blocks. 

The Serra da Estrela is mainland Portugal’s highest mountain range, a highly character-forming feature that gives the Beira Interior/Terras da Beira a more continental climate than the Dão region, westward across the mountains. It is hot and dry in summer, and very cold in winter with frequent snow.

The mountain slopes of the Beira Interior bear some of the highest vineyards in Portugal. This means cool nights that put a break on ripening, in spite of the heat. And the combination of altitude, granite soils and summer sun makes for big yet bright, freshly fruity wines.

Grapes and Wine Styles

Herby, floral reds, rich and sometimes firm, draw on top Portuguese grape varieties, and are sometimes complemented with international varieties such as Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The star local white grape is the Fonte Cal, an exclusive local treasure that can make rich, honeyed whites with steely acidity, good when young and can develop complexity with age. It may be blended with other Portuguese varieties, and/or with newcomers including Chardonnay and Riesling. There are good sparkling and rosé wines as well.

Quality is definitely on the up, both amongst individual producers and co-operatives. Old vines can make for concentrated flavour.


Main white grapes: 

  • Síria, Arinto, Fonte Cal, Malvasia, Fernão Pires

Main red grapes:

  • Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Alfrocheiro, Trincadeira,Touriga Franca, Rufete,  Bastardo, Marufo