Fernao Pires - What's The Grape


South Africa is one of few countries outside of Portugal to grow Fernão  Pires. It was first bottled by Van Loveren in 1982. Initially grown for brandy production, some of the last and oldest blocks (30 something years old) are found in the Breede River Valley. I was surprised by the name, but then learned that it is grown in Portugal in the regions of Ribatejo as well as Barraida, where it is known as Maria Gomes. This name is more familiar to me thanks to the WSET textbook. I also realised that it’s the grape in Kortpad Kaaptoe, made by my absolute favourite producer - BlankBottle.

Also known as:

The grape is also known as Maria Gomes, Camarate, Fernam Pires, Fernan Piriz, Fernão Pirão, Fernão Pires do Beco, Gaeiro, Gaieiro, and Molinha

On the vine:

Medium sized bunches with oval shaped green yellow berries. The colour mutation with pink berries is called Fernão Pires Rosado.  The variety is early ripening, with high-yielding vines.

In the bottle:

Think Muscat with lime, honeysuckle, orange blossoms, peach, clove, citronella lemon, tropical fruits such as mango, with Muscat spiciness. Low to medium acidity and a light to medium body. Alcohol can be on the higher end of medium.


Drink now, not suitable for ageing beyond 2 years.

Wine review:

BlankBottle Fernão Pires

Pale gold in colour with a medium nose of pretty, pretty honeysuckle and freesias, mango, peach, honey, petrichor, and a touch of citrus scented floor wax.

There’s some RS, so I’m calling this off dry? Medium- bodied, medium- acidity, a very long finish of mango, honey, watered down piña colada and fennel. The acidity is lacking (we’re a warm region)…but it it’s still so pretty. One thing that I missed was the spices that I’ve learned are typical for this grape….it’s a stretch to mention possible cinnamon and nutmeg…a biiiiig stretch.

Pairing suggestions:

I didn't anticipate how floral and pretty the nose of this wine would be. It reminds me of Gewürztraminer for it's incredible aromatics and light body, though it has a different aroma profile. And for that reason I'd head for a mild curry, a salad tossed with fruits, pork loin marinated with apricot chutney, a  meat empanada served with a mango salsa, or caramelised onion tart with a light rocket salad sprinkled with pine nuts.

Find the Wine:


Other wines to try:

Strange Bru Fernão Pires, though this is blended with Grenache Blanc.

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