The white grape variety comes from Portugal. Synonyms are Camarate, Fernam Pires, Fernan Piriz, Fernão Pirão, Fernão Pires de Beco, Gaeiro, Gaieiro, Maria Gomes (second main name), Molinha, Molinho, Torrontés (see there). It must not be confused with the varieties Bical (Fernão Pires Galego), Camarate, Fernão Pires de Colares (no longer cultivated) or Trebbiano Toscano, despite the fact that synonyms or morphological similarities seem to indicate this. There is also a colour mutation with pink berries called Fernão Pires Rosado.
Fernão Pires is a common Portuguese family name. This suggests that some important but unknown personality should be honoured. The exact origin is probably the Bairrada area, where there are several varieties of this vine. The variety was a cross-breeding partner in the new varieties Alvarinho Silvestre, Casalze, Generosa, Marquinhas, Rio Grande and Seara Nova.
The early ripening, high-yielding vine produces aromatic, low-acid wines with a variety of aromas of oranges, lime blossom, laurel, mimosa and honey. These tend to oxidation and therefore have little potential for storage. They are also used for distillation. With 9,376 hectares in 2010, Fernão Pires is the most common Portuguese white wine variety. It is grown in many DO areas such as Alentejo, Bairrada, Douro, Palmela, Península de Setúbal and Ribatejo or Tejo. There are also small stocks in South Africa (135 ha), Australia and California. In 2010, the variety occupied a total of 9,511 hectares of vineyards, with a strong downward trend (in 2000, it was 14,545 hectares). This puts it in 74th place in the worldwide grape variety ranking.
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)