Alentejo is Portugal’s largest region, extending from the Tagus River in the north to the Algarve in the south. As a region, it is both scenic and historic. Predominantly located inland, it is also hot, dry, and sparsely populated. It is also hospitable to many grape varieties of both Portuguese and French origin. Important red varietals include Aragonez, Castelão, Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, and Alicante Bouschet. Most Alentejo red wines are blends of these varieties, and in this article we review several current releases of red blends from Alentejo. For more on the wines of Alentejo, see our report on The New Wines of Portugal and our recent article on The Alicante Bouschet Wines of Alentejo.
Adega de Borba 2015 Vinho Tinto Reserva Alentejo ($21) 90 Showing fresh, lively aromas of blue and black berries with a scent that evokes slate like minerals, this is a balanced and nicely structured wine with flavors that mirror the bouquet and a long, flavorful finish. It borders on being rustic, but it’s very good value. A blend of 30% Trincadeira, 30% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Aragonez, and 20% Castelão; matured 12 months in used French oak. 13.5% alc. Adega de Borba is a cooperative established in 1955 with 270 members and 2,200 ha of vines. US Importer: L&B Beverage
Fundação Eugénio de Almeida Adega Cartuxa 2016 Cartuxa Evora Tinto Alentejo ($25) 90 The Cartuxa Tinto opens with a nose that evokes plum, spice and loam. Dark fruited and firmly structured, it requires time to open up, but when it does there’s nice red and black berries and a touch of toasted oak on a medium weight palate. Finishes with nicely evolved tannins. A blend of 40% Alicante Bouschet, 40% Aragonez, and 20% Trincadeira matured 12 months in French oak; 14% alc. The Fundação has about 600 ha of vineyards. US Importer: Tri-Vin Imports
Herdade de São Miguel 2017 Vinho Tinto Colheita Seleccionada Vinho Regional Alentejano ($15) 90 Dark ruby red showing black plum and dark berry aromas, the Colheita Seleccionada delivers a full, lush and fruit forward palate with good concentration of red and black fruit accompanied by notes of spice. Bright acidity balances and enlivens the wine. A blend of 50% Alicante Bouschet, 30% Touriga Nacional, 10% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; destemmed, cold soaked for 48 hours, fermented in stainless steel with oak staves; 50% of the wine matured in 400L French oak for 4 months. Alc 13.5% Owned by Alexandre Relvas, Herdade de São Miguel has 35 ha of vines planted in clay and schist soils and 100 ha of cork trees. US Importer: Quintessential
Herdade do Esporão 2016 Esporão Reserva Alentejo ($24) 91 Dark ruby. This is a delicious, easy drinking wine. The nose is a bit dark and brooding with elements of dark cherry, cassis and plum with a loamy earth note. The palate picks up on the aromas and adds firm, round tannins and acidity such that it leaves a sense of freshness on the finish despite the fairly high alcohol. While the Esporão Reserva can be aged, it can also be enjoyed right now to pair with pork, duck and even earthy vegetables. A blend of 60% Aragonez, 30% Alicante Bouschet, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; matured 12 months in 40% French and 60% American oak barrels. 14.5% alc The winemakers are David Baverstock and Sandra Alves. Herdade do Esporão is located about 170 km southeast of Lisbon near the historical city of Reguengos de Monsaraz. Esporão is owned by Finagra, a public company controlled by the Portuguese investment banker, José Roquette. US Importer: Now Wine Imports, Esporão’s US import arm.
Carmim 2014 Reguengos Garrafeira dos Sócios Vinho Tinto Alentejo ($45) 91 Opaque ruby. Scents of dark red berries and orchard fresh plum show on the nose. This Vinho Tinto is full in the mouth with notes of concentrated black fruit, dried tobacco and toasted oak. It’s full and lush in the mouth with a hint of rusticity. Finishes dry and with good length. A blend of 65% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Touriga Nacional and 15% Tinta Caiada aged 18 months in 60% new French oak, American oak, and used Portuguese oak. Alc 14.5% The winemakers are Rui Veladas and Tiago Garcia. Carmim–Cooperativa Agrícola de Reguengos de Monsaraz—was created in 1971; today, Carmim has some 850 members with 3,600 hectares (8,900 acres) of vineyards. US Importer: Saraiva Enterprises