Bairrada is the famous home of the difficult Baga grape, but it is also to be found widely elsewhere in the Beiras, including Dão.
Baga grapes are small and thick-skinned (which makes for high tannin levels in the juice), and the grapes ripen late, indeed inadequately in cooler, damper years, especially if planted in an inappropriate place. Baga performs best on clay soils and requires good exposition to the sun. Even then, it is highly susceptible to rot, especially in September rains. The vines produce exuberant foliage, creating a lot of work in the vineyard for quality-conscious growers. When the grapes ripen well, in dry years, Baga wines have deep colour and a rich but lean, tannic, high-acid structure, with clear flavours of berries and black plums and hints of coffee, hay, tobacco and smoke. Though often astringent when young, Baga wines (especially the best ones from Bairrada) can age remarkably well, softening and gaining elegance and a herby, cedary, dried fruit complexity.