Alentejo

Vineyard in Alentejo

 

Located to the east of Lisbon and extending for a considerable distance to the South, the Alentejo region is Portugal’s largest wine producing region.

Vines in Alentejo

For many wine lovers, the Alentejo region is best know for the cork production of the region which is on a huge scale. Approximately 70% of corks produced globally come from Portugal and approximately 95% of those produced in Portugal come from the Alentejo region. The region is very much the global home of cork production.

Unfortunately, the iconic cork oak is now endangered and it is listed as priority species on the World Wildlife Fund website. This is a particularly sad development as the species is totally sustainable; cork is produced from the bark of the trees and the bark regenerates, it is not necessary to cut down the tress in order to produce cork. With the recent production of plastic corks and the escalating use of screw caps, demand for cork has declined and with it the price. Now many of the farmers that produced cork are looking for alternative forms of income from their land so more and more the trees are being cut down.

Grapes in Alentejo

Fortunately in Portugal cork is very much the product of preference for wine producers and the cheaper alternatives are very rarely used. Cork is the classic material for sealing wine bottles with a history going back to the 1st century BC, it is an incredible, natural material that deserves it’s place sealing the world’s best wines.

Cork production aside, the Alentejo region is now becoming known for the outstanding wines being produced. The region has a long history of wine production and it is believed that the first Portuguese wines exported to Rome were from the region. The Roman influence over the Alentejo region was significant and enduring. The process of fermenting must and storing the wine in clay vessels was introduced by the Romans and it is still practised in the region.

Red Grapes in Alentejo

In 1988 the first DOCs (Denominação de Origem Controlada) were established for the Alentejo region. By complying with the restrictions of the DOC, production techniques are highly regulated and this is a means of guaranteeing the quality of the wines. The following year the CVRA (Comissão Vitivinícola Regional Alentejana) was set up and this is the body that now regulates the wines produced in the region.

Owing to the warm, dry climate the Alentejo region naturally favours red wine production. Typically the red wines will be full-bodied and beautifully rounded with fruit flavours. The grapes used for red wine production in the region often include Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Castelão, Moreto and Trincadeira. That said, throughout the region you will see some of the grape varieties more widely used throughout the world such as Syrah (Shiraz) and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Grape Vines in Alentejo

Modern techniques have also enabled fantastic white wines to be produced in the Alentejo region; again these wines will often have a powerful punch of fruit to their flavour. The grapes that are typically used for the white wines include Fernão Pires, Antão Vaz, Arinto, Fernão Pires, Trincadeira das Pratas, Síria Rabo de Ovelha and Alicante Branco.

When talking to the Portuguese nationals about wine there is always a huge amount of passion for the wines from the Alentejo region and we can fully understand where that passion is coming from. The wines from the region are an absolute joy and we know that you will love discovering the incredible flavours inherent in the wine.

Browse our selection of Alentejo wines.