Herdade do Rocim: New Releases from Portugal’s Alentejo

Located in the Baixo Alentejo with 70 hectares of vineyards (53 red, 17 white) and 10 ha of olives, Herdade do Rocim was founded by the late José Ribeiro Vieira. Today, his daughter Catarina Vieira and husband Pedro Ribeiro own the estate and make the wines. We visited Catarina and Herdade do Rocim on our last trip to the Alentejo. At the time we expressed the hope that the wine would soon be imported to the US, and we’re happy that Shiverick Imports obliged.  In this article, we renew our acquaintance with Herdade do Rocim and review the latest releases.

Catarina Vieira and Pedro Ribeiro

The Amphora Tinto is of special note. It’s made in clay pots lined with beeswax and olive oil and kept outside and above ground just as the Romans would have done 2 thousand years ago. The grapes are 60-80 years old and grown close to the ground. The grapes, skins and stems all go into the pot without any additions, not even sulfur. After malo the skins and stems sink to the bottom of the pot, and a layer of olive oil is put on top of the wine to prevent oxidation.

The Alentejo

The Alentejo wine producing region sits predominantly inland and is hot, dry, and sparsely populated. The climate varies within the region.  Towards the north (Alto Alentejo), centered around Évora, altitudes reach as high as one thousand meters, while in the south (Baixo Alentejo) altitudes are lower, temperatures are higher, diurnal variations in temperature are smaller, and rainfall is lower.  The town of Vidigueira is the dividing line between Alto and Baixo Alentejo.  Not only the climate, but also the soils of Alentejo vary widely from the marble and chalk soils of Évora to the limestone and volcanic soils of Vidigueira and the granite and schist of Redondo (near the Spanish border).  Schist is common throughout the region, and some vineyards also have deep clay.

US Importer:  Shiverick Imports

Wine Reviews

Herdade do Rocim NV Mariana Brut Espumante Branco Blanc de Blancs Portugal 88 Showing a fine mousse and light orchard fruit and yeasty aromas and flavors, this is a very dry, delicate wine meant for easy drinking. Made methode champenoise from the Arinto grape, which is a good candidate for sparkling with its high acidity and mild flavors. Spends 9 months on the lees. This is the first sparkler we’ve tasted from Arinto, and it’s promising. We hope Herdade do Rocim keeps experimenting with this.

Herdade do Rocim 2017 Mariana Rosé Vinho Regiona Alentejano ($14) 90 Starbright pale pink. Elegant and pure with light pomegranate and cherry eau-de-vie aromas and flavors. Light on the palate but with surprising intensity and length, finishing on a dry, nervy note. Made of Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo) grown on sandy soil in the southern Alentejo. 3.5 g/L RS Outstanding value!

Herdade do Rocim 2016 Amphora Vinho Tinto Alentejo ($17) 90 The Amphora Tinto begins with a carbonic like nose of bright red fruit. The wine is light on the palate, very fresh, with a suave texture and pure red berries and cherry with dried herb nuances. 50% Aragonez, 30% Trincadeira, 10% Moreto, 10% Tinta Grossa fermented in large clay pots without temperature control. 12.5% alc.

Herdade do Rocim 2016 Mariana Vinho Branco Vinho Regional Alentejano ($14) 88 Made in an easy drinking style, the Vinho Branco offers tropical fruit aromas and flavors. It’s fresh and uncomplicated. A blend of 60% Antão Vaz, Arinto (30%), and Alvarinho (10%). Alc 12%

Herdade do Rocim 2016 Mariana Vinho Tinto Vinho Regional Alentejano ($14) 89 Black cherry, tobacco, and honeyed oak aromas and flavors. Nice silky mouth feel with layers of flavors and complexity that’s unusual in a wine at this price level. Still quite youthful and will improve with another year in bottle. Touriga Nacional (40%), Aragonez (30%), Alicante Bouschet (20%), Trincadeira (10%) cold soaked 24 hours, fermented in small steel tanks, and aged 6 months in French oak barrels.

Herdade do Rocim 2016 Vinho Tinto Touriga Nacional Vinho Regional Alentejano ($16) 91 A big, chewy wine showing dark cherry, tobacco, underbrush, and spicy oak. Densely flavored with good complexity and firm round tannins. Very good single varietal Touriga Nacional, and a steal at this price. 100% Touriga Nacional, organically cultivated, hand picked, fermented in French oak and then barrel aged 9 months.

Herdade do Rocim 2016 Olho de Mocho Vinho Branco Reserva Vinho Regional Alentejano  91 This oaked Antão Vaz wine is aromatically reserved with hints of flint and citrus, but the palate is straight and serious, firmly structured with orchard fruit and citrus notes. Rich and broad on the palate with a firm finish and lingering high toned fruit notes.

Herdade do Rocim 2011 Olho de Mocho Vinho Tinto Reserva Vinho Regional Alentejano 93  Opaque ruby. This an earthy yet rich and beautifully concentrated wine packed with flavor. The juicy dark red fruit is bold but with a floral note. Beautifully balanced with a silky texture and well integrated oak and fruit. A blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Petite Verdot. 14.5% alc.

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