Bastardo, also known as Trousseau or Merenzao in some regions, is believed to have originated in eastern France, possibly in the Jura region. However, it has also been grown in other wine-producing regions, most notably in Portugal and Spain.
The grapes are small to medium-sized with thin skins and a dark blue to black color and are known for their intriguing and unique flavor profile. They often exhibit notes of red fruits like raspberries and cranberries, with some herbal and spice undertones, and tend to have a good acidity, which can lend brightness and freshness to the wines.
Bastardo wines typically have moderate tannins, contributing to their structure and texture. The alcohol content can vary depending on climate, winemaking techniques, and the region where it’s grown. Some of the wines can age well and develop interesting complexities over time.
Portugal and Spain are two countries where Bastardo is known to be cultivated.
In Portugal, it is one of the permitted grape varieties in the Douro Valley, famous for producing Port wines. In the past, Bastardo was used to add complexity and aromatics to specific Port blends. However, its plantings have decreased over the years, and it’s now a rare find in Portuguese wines.
In Spain, particularly in Galicia and Bierzo, the grape is known as “Merenzao” or “Maria Ardoa.” There, it is sometimes used to produce varietal wines or blended with other local varieties to create distinctive regional wines.