João Portugal Ramos: A Pioneering Alentejo Winemaker

Five years ago João Portugal Ramos, one of Portugal’s best known winemakers and an avid hunter, invited us to his house near Estremoz for lunch. We must have behaved ourselves because he invited us once again last week, this time for a dinner of wild partridge. João started off his professional life as a winemaking consultant but started his own vineyard in 1990 and now makes wine in Beira and the Douro in addition to the Alentejo, and he’s just starting a new venture in Vinho Verde, too. His wines are rich, complex, and reveal the terroir of Alentejo. We tasted through his portfolio before dinner and then selected a couple of wines for the meal. One wine we chose was the 2007 Vila Santa Reserva, a barrel fermented blend of several Alentejo varietals. Another wine we selected was the 2007 Marques de Borba Reserve, a rich refined wine showing minerals, violets, loam and cassis fruit. This is a blend of traditional Portuguese red varietals tread by foot in stone lagares and aged in new French oak. In our opinion, it is among the best red wines made in Portugal today. We’ll provide detailed tasting notes on all of João Portugal Ramos’ wines in our upcoming report on the Wines of Portugal.

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