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The Alentejo… where tradition meets the new

The Alentejo is huge, with its flat plains covering almost a third of the country. Much of
this area is given over to cereal production. It’s also hot, and irrigation is common. In
contrast to the northern regions, with their fragmented smallholdings, production is
dominated by large, professional outfits.

The Alentejo is where Portugal’s climate finally escapes the Atlantic influence, and the
scenery changes to large, gently undulating plains that experience baking hot summers
and cold winters more typical of continental weather systems. Think of it as Portugal’s
‘new world’, with the potential to make extrovert, ripe wines with a taste of the sun
about them. This is the least populated of Portugal’s regions, and instead of the
smallholdings that typify the agricultural landscape elsewhere, the Alentejo has many
large estates. Referred to as the ‘bread basket’ of Portugal, wheat is the most important
crop here, with the poorer soils being reserved for olive trees, cork oaks and vineyards.
If you want to locate the Alentejo on a map of Portugal, it's inland and down a bit from
Lisbon, touching the Spanish border on the east and the Algarve is at its south end.

Some white wines are made in the Alentejo, but it’s the reds that are forging the region’s
reputation. Demand for Alentejo wines, with their ripe fruit and full-bodied character, has
been such that vineyard land here is among the most expensive in the whole country.
Because many of the estates are fairly large and the climate is so reliable, economies of
scale mean that Alentejo wines can combine quality with affordability, which is more of a
challenge in Portugal’s more northerly regions.


| The Wine

The Alentejo has led the way in Portugal’s wine revolution. Aside from the many tourist
attractions in the region (such as the towns of Evora, Borba and Estremoz), it is wine
that is currently putting the Alentejo region on the map, and more specifically, its red
wines. There are two distinct styles of Alentejo red. First, there is what can loosely be
termed the traditional style. These often combine earthy, herbal, undergrowth-like
savoury flavours and aromas with the fruit. Traditional Alentejo wines are often complex
and reasonably age worthy.

Then there is the modern style which show lots of intense fruit, with a richness that is
quite ‘new world’ in character, and not a million miles away from the style that has made
Australian wines such a success over recent years. Both Alentejo styles are interesting
and worthwhile, but it is the latter, more modern group of wines that has been largely
responsible for putting the Alentejo on the map as one of Portugal’s most important red
wine regions. 

| Alentejo Grape varieties

Traditional Portuguese grape varieties dominate the region, but newcomers such as
Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon are beginning to make inroads, often
blended with the local varieties: Alfrocheiro, Alicante Bouschet, Antão Vaz, Aragonez,
Arinto, Castelão, Fernão Pires, Manteudo, Moreto, Rabo de Ovelho, Roupeiro & Tamar .

| Appellation


• Alentejo DOC

DOC alentejoAlentejo DOC itself has been divided into eight sub-regions, some with its own DOC.  On wine labels, you'll see the sub-region's name after the regional appellation, e.g. "Alentejo Borba." Wines can also be labeled as Vinho Regional, under the "Alentejano" designation.  Growers in each sub-region favour different grape varieties.

• Vinho Regional (VR) Alentejano

CVRAThose wines of good quality from the Alentejo that don't adhere to the stringent DOC restraints or fall outside the designated areas. Some of Portugals most innovative winemakers decide to opt out of the appellation system.

CVR Alentejana Official Website [ go ]

See a full list of our range of wines from the Alentejo [ go ]

MarquesDEBorba

Voyage of Discovery, Amazing Alentejo,
selection case of 6, save 10%


Altas Quintas - 600 Tinto Alentejo DOC 2008
Adega Cartuxa - Branco Alentejo DOC 2008
Cortes de Cima- Charminé Tinto VR Alentejano 2008
Bacalhõa - Dom Martinho Tinto VR Alentejano 2008

Tiago Cabaço - .com Syrah & Touriga Nacional Tinto VR Alentejano 2009
J. Portugal Ramos - Marquês de Borba Tinto Alentejo DOC
2009

More Info [ go ]

Sub Regions:

• Borba - Borba is the second largest Alentejo sub-region, stretching along the axis from
Estremoz to Terrugem, extending down through Orada, Vila Viçosa, Rio de Moinhos and
Alandroal. The terrain is punctuated by unique soils, huge deposits of marble that have
made an indelible mark on vine growing and the character of the sub-region's wines.
Substantial patches of red schist spread throughout austere and poor soil form a
markedly different typology in Borba, one of the Alentejo's most dynamic sub-regions.
 
Borba's special microclimate ensures above-average rainfall as well as slightly lower than
average levels of sunshine for the Alentejo, producing wines that are particularly fresh
and elegant.

MarquesDEBorba

João Portugal Ramos, Marques de Borba
Tinto Alentejo DOC 2009


Berry like and jam aromas. Excellent balance between fruit, acidty and tannins.
£8.00 a bottle.

More Info [ go ]


• Portalegre - Of all eight Alentejano sub-regions, Portalegre differs the most in originality
and character. Here, nothing conforms to what is traditionally Alentejo, from soils to
vineyards, from altitude to age of the vines. Vineyards are mostly found in the foothills of
the Serra da Mamede mountain range, whose rocky peaks may reach one thousand
metres. Altitude means the climate is cooler and wetter than the baking plains of
southern Alentejo, yielding fresh and elegant wines... yet equally powerful.

The predominantly granite terrain is interspersed with small patches of schist in the lower
areas. Vineyards tend to be fragmented in these hills, divided into countless small strips
of very old vines, many of which may be in their seventies. Curiously, French grape
varieties Cinsault and Grand Noir have always been planted here, one of the many
eccentricities of Portalegre.

MarquesDEBorba

Herdade de Perdigão Reserva Tinto
Vinho Regional Alentejano 2006


Full-bodied wine, with deep and intense colour. Show a complex bouquet of mature fruit (raspberries, mulberries), with hints of spices, combined with tobacco and chocolate.
On palate, we can feel a great balance acidity, showing good tannic structure with long and persistent finish.

£26.67 a bottle.

More Info [ go ]



• Redondo - Serra da Ossa is one of the biggest hill ranges in the Alentejo, reaching
some 600 metres in height. The hills dominate and demarcate the sub-region of Redondo,
sheltering the vineyards from northerly and easterly winds and furnishing cold, dry
winters to offset the hot, sun-drenched summers.

The land, despite being typically heterogeneous, is favoured with granite and schist on
the gentle south-facing slopes. The protection provided the Serra da Ossa makes
Redondo one of the most consistent sub-regions.

MarquesDEBorba

Adega COOP Redondo, Porta da Ravessa Branco
Alentejo DOC 2009


Fresh, fruity crisp and refreshing. Wonderful summer wine.
£3.67 a bottle.

More Info [ go ]


• Reguengos - The largest and most prestigious Alentejo sub-region is formed of poor,
stony terrain filled with rocky outcrops that make the Reguengos countryside so dramatic.
Schist soils and markedly continental climate of freezing winters and boiling summers
govern vine growing, yielding full-bodied and powerful wines with good cellaring
potential.

Despite its size, Reguengos landholdings tend to be fragmented with vineyards tending
to be smaller than the traditional Alentejo average. Reguengos is home to some of the
oldest vineyards in the Alentejo, safeguarding clones and varieties that would otherwise
be lost.

MarquesDEBorba

CARMIM Monsaraz Tinto
Alentejo DOC 2009


This wine possesses a distinct ruby-red colouring, a complex aroma of ripe fruit (berries, red currants) and oak. Mellow on the palate and well-rounded, with smooth tannins and a lingering finish.
£4.83 a bottle.

More Info [ go ]


• Vidigueira - The Vidigueira fault, the natural landmark dividing upper (Alto) Alentejo and
lower (Baixo), also determines the sub-region of the same name. The escarpment
extends east to west for some 50 kilometres, influencing the climate of Vidigueira, which
although being the most southern of Alentejo's sub-region is one of the most temperate.

The predominantly granite and schist based soils are not very fertile but they support
one of the Alentejo's most mysterious grape varieties - Tinta Grossa, which also goes by
the name of Tinta Barroca.

Despite being so hot and so far south, Vidigueira has always been famed for its
production of white wines, due to the protection of the Vidigueira escarpment.

MarquesDEBorba

Herdade do Peso Reserva Tinto
Vinho Regional Alentejano 2003


Herdade do Peso Reserva is a complex and elegant wine of exceptional quality that concentrates all the grandeur and exuberance of Alentejo wines.
£13.17 a bottle.

More Info [ go ]


• Évora - Way back at the tail end of the 19th century Evora was enjoying unimaginable
fame, regarded as one of the most attractive and admired sub-regions in the Alentejo,
birthplace of the region's most coveted wines. However, firstly phylloxera and then the
wheat-growing campaign of the Estado Novo almost put an end to vineyards in the sub-
region, forcing Evora into oblivion.

 

There it languished until the end of the 1980s when Evora underwent a renaissance, as
the province capital and integral part of central Alentejo. The hot, dry countryside is
dominated by non-calcareous grey Mediterranean soil, which produces some of the
Alentejo's most prestigious wines.

MarquesDEBorba

Adega da Cartuxa Branco
Alentejo DOC 2008


Delicate and fine fragrance, with citrus notes and flowers and mineral suggestions. Gentle, certain body, light acidulous, good depth and harmony.
£12.17 a bottle.

More Info [ go ]


• Granja/Amareleja - Granja-Amareleja lies in the surrounding area of Mourão, adjacent
to the Spanish border, and is conditioned by one of the most dry and harsh climates in
Portugal. Extremely poor clay and schist soil permits only the lowest yields of grapes,
where lack of water is dictated by absence of organic matter and sparse plant growth.
An area of such extremes gives life to wines packed with personality.

The scorching, dry summers give rise to early maturation, which produce smooth, warm
wines with high alcohol content. One of the most characteristic grape varieties of Granja
-Amareleja is Moreto, which has adapted especially well to the region.


• Moura - The climate here is strongly continental, with cold winters and long, dry
scorching summers. The soil is particularly poor, alternating between clay and limestone.
Topsoil is shallow, baked hard and tough on vines, but it does retain well what little
water there is.

Castelão vines dominate the region as they are best suited to the rigours of such
extreme weather conditions. Moura wines show a soft, warm profile with consonant
alcohol levels.


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