The white grape variety comes from Portugal. Synonyms grouped alphabetically by country are Verdelho Branco, Verdelho Branco dos Açores, Verdelho da Madeira, Verdelho dos Açores, Verdelho Pico(Portugal); Verdello no Peluda Finca Natero(Canary Islands). Although it appears to have synonyms or morphological similarities, it should not be confused with Chenin Blanc, Doçal (Verdelho Doce), Godello (Verdelho), Verdejo, Verdello or Verdicchio Bianco. The Verdelho Roxo variety is a colour mutation. However, the Verdelho Tinto variety is independent. Recent DNA analyses have revealed a parent-offspring relationship with the Savagnin Blanc(Traminer) variety. Longstanding suspicions that Verdelho is identical to Verdicchio Bianco and a clone of Chenin Blanc have been disproved.
The early ripening vine is susceptible to botrytis and trickle, slightly less susceptible to powdery and downy mildew, but resistant to drought. Its sugar-rich berries produce neutral, alcohol-rich and acidic white wines. The variety was extensively planted in Madeira in the 17th century; before the arrival of phylloxera, it occupied two thirds of the vineyards on this Portuguese island. It is one of the four noble varieties for the famous dessert wine and gave the name to a Madeira variety. Today it occupies 75 hectares of vineyards here. In the Azores it is the main ingredient of the DOC wines Biscoitos, Graciosa and Pico. On the mainland it is cultivated in the Alentejo region. In 2010, the variety occupied a total of 397 hectares in Portugal.
In France, the variety was introduced in Savennières on the Loire at the beginning of the 19th century. It was reintroduced into the French list of varieties after an interim elimination in 1995, but no stocks were recorded in 2010. It is cultivated on a larger scale in Australia (Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale) on 1,535 hectares. There are smaller areas in Argentina (16 ha), Brazil (1 ha), New Zealand (5 ha) and South Africa (25 ha). In 2010, the total area under cultivation was 2,005 hectares, with a strong upward trend.
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012