Jampal is white grape variety of southern Portugal. Until recently, the variety had been gradually disappearing from all but the oldest vineyards, and came very close to extinction.
It makes well-structured wines with notes of citrus and gently tropical overtones, and has naturally high acidity. This last characteristic apparently led the foolhardy winemaker of Manz Cheleiros to name his highly regarded oak-aged example of Jampal after his mother-in-law, Do?a Fatima.
In 2011, DNA profiling revealed a link between Jampal and the dark-skinned Castelao grape of the Douro Valley. Some authorities suggest that Jampal originated in the far south of Portugal, around Lisbon and the Algarve, some specifying the sandy soils of Colares as Jampal's true home.
It is not hard to imagine why it migrated further inland. The variety's tendency to ripen relatively late in the season would have made its susceptibility to rot and mildew a particular hindrance in Colares' moist maritime climate.
The reason for Jampal's general decline was its unreliable yield. This made the grapes and their wines expensive (particularly when compared to more consistently productive varieties such as Azal Branco, Loureiro or Fern?o Pires).
In the 1950s, when the prices that Portuguese whites could command began falling, Jampal became economically unviable. It was largely replaced by the more generously yielding varieties that now make up the majority of Portuguese white wine. However, the early 21st Century has seen signs of fresh potential for Jampal, and increased attention from wine writers.
Synonyms include: Jampaulo, Jampolo, Jo?o Paolo.
Food matches for Jampal include:
- Portuguese-style fish stew
- Steamed mussels
- Grilled, marinated chicken thighs