Portugal’s Alentejo region, which sits in the Southern part of the country, has quite a lot going for it. Vineyard plantings are dominated by indigenous grapes with a splash of international varieties that thrive there. By and large, producers are committed to utilizing a combination of Organic, Sustainable and/or Biodynamic farming practices. That commitment allows not only the grapes to shine but also the wide array of different micro-climates to make their presence known. Here are five wines from different producers that offer a peak into the diversity of what Alentejo is accomplishing. What ties them together aside from their region of origin is their versatility with food, outstanding value and the fact that they are simply delicious and interesting.
Malhadinha Nova Monte da Peceguina Tinto 2015 ($19)
This blend of indigenous and international varieties (Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon) is an incredibly fresh and lively wine. The expressive nose brings to mind a bowl of ripe red and black berries. Strawberry, cherry and blackberry notes are all evident through the palate alongside oodles of spice and a gentle hint of toast. Savory herbs and a dollop of chocolate emerge on the solid finish. Pair this with all but the heaviest of foods for great results.
Piteira 2014 Tinto de Talha Alentejo DOC ($23)
The native red grape Moreto makes up 100% of this wine. Using traditional methodology, the wine is fermented in a clay vessel for up to three months. During that time, the lees are stirred daily. Red raspberry and ripe wild strawberry aromas are in evidence here. The palate is stuffed with fresh, eager fruit flavors that are both lively and charming in a pastoral manner that evokes the countryside from which it came. The finish is long and pleasing. Firm acid and impeccable balance make it both food-friendly and easy to consume.
Esporão Reserva Tinto 2014 DOC ($25)
This blend of indigenous and international varieties (Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Trincadeira and Cabernet Sauvignon) has been part of their portfolio since 1985. Red raspberry and blackberry aromas fill the heady nose. Continued red and black fruits along with copious spice notes are evident through the palate. The above-average finish shows off earth, dried fruit and a bit of cocoa. Firm acid keeps things in check. This will pair with a truly wide array of foods.
Cartuxa Evora Tinto Colheita, 2013 Evora DOC ($25)
This is largely a blend of native varieties like Aragonez (Tempranillo), Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira, with some Cabernet Sauvignon as well. The nose is an enticing combination of red fruit tinged by subtle bits of herb. Strawberry and cherry notes are evident on the palate along with bits of cinnamon and pepper. Sour red fruit and wisps of earth dot the above-average finish.
Herdade do Rocim Olho de Mocho Branco 2014 Vidigueira ($30)
This white wine is composed exclusively of the native grape Antao Vaz. This is an impressive offering from the first whiff to the last sip. Huge aromatics lead the way with wet limestone and yellow flowers in abundance. Melon, yellow peach and white pepper notes dominate the palate. The finish is long and spicy with a honeyed edge. It’s delicious all by itself but will pair marvelously with light and medium weight cuisine.