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Pacesetting Wines from Alentejo

  Last month, I participated in a Master the World wine tasting and seminar with Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein featuring Alentejano wines. The Master the Wine tasting classes are available to wine lovers who want to learn more about wine, tasting kits can be purchased individually for a specific region of interest or a series of tasting classes can be purchased as well. This specific tasting was set up by Creative Palate Communications for trade and media in the wine industry.

  An Alentejano wine is the correct way to refer to wines that come from Portugal's Alentejo wine region. Portugal is 11th in total world production of wine. Despite only being 575 miles by 138 miles in size, the country's acres under vine in the 4th largest amount in Europe and it is 8th in the world. Alentejo represents 13% of the total acres under vine in Portugal and is responsible for 18% of the country's total production. Alentejo translates to "beyond the Rio Tejo" which is known as the Tagus River in English, this river cuts across Portugal.

  The Alentejo PDO has been recognized since 1998. A PDO is the Portuguese equivalent to A French AOC or an Italian DOC and designates the Denomination of Origen and insures its production standards. There are eight sub-regions in Alentejo: Portalegre, Borba, Evora, Redondo, Reguengos, Videguejra, Granja-Amareleja, and Moura.

The Tasting:

Rocim Olha de Mocho Reserva Branco 2021 - Antão Vaz, a spectacular white grape variety proniunced Ann-TAO Vise, is unique to Alentejo and makes up 100% of this wine. The winery was founded in 2000 and is organically farmed, it sits on the Vidigueira fault which is a natural landmark designating the border between upper and lower Alentejo. The wine is dry, medium bodied, rich, and round with an acidic backbone and creamy texture featuring notes of tropical fruit, lemon verbena, and macadamia nuts. SRP $28

Esporâo Colheita White 2021 - This winery is known for their environmental activism and is the recipient of the Wines of Alentejo’s internationally recognized Sustainability Program (WASP), which has established the region among the world’s most progressive where sustainable winemaking is concerned. Also organically grown, this dry, medium body, food friendly white blend of Antão Vaz, Alvarinho, Viosinho, and Vermentino shows soft tropical notes with what Goldstein referred to as a "stonefruit echo" and a mineral driven freshness and finish.  $18

Jose Maria da Fonseca "Jose de Sousa" 2017- This wine was the product of revers engineering the winemaking process of a case of Jose de Sousa's legendary 1940's vintage which was purchased by the owners from Christie's using techniques like foot trodding and amphora known as Talha for fermentation. Aside from the Republic of Georgia, Alentejo is the only region worldwide with an unbroken tradition of amphora winemaking, brought to the area by the Phoenicians, dating back over 2,000 years. This medium bodied red blend of Grand Noir, Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional had a raisin character with leather notes and a roughness of texture, it was my least favorite wine of the tasting. $19

Quinta da Fonte Souto Tinto 2019 - This wine was selected by Goldstein to showcase how the high altitude terroir, which translates to more sunlight for ripening with natural higher acidity from the cooler temperatures, affects the wines of the region. This wine is sourced from Portalegre in the northernmost part of Alentejo. This red is a blend of Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, and Alfrocheiro. Dry, full body, and delicious with a mix of red and black fruit hints of walnut and chocolate, the oak influence was felt more than tasted.  $29

João Portugal Ramos Marquês de Borba Vinhas Velhas Tinto 2020 - A blend of Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Castelão, Syrah from 36 year old vines in the Borba sub-region. Concentrated and expressive, the dry red is full bodied with a black fruit character, eucalyptus hints, a silky texture and just a touch of astringency. $20

Herdade de Grous Moon Harvested Alicante Bouschet 2021 - This wine is 100% Alicante Bouschet, the pride of Alentejo and the region’s flagship red. The "moon harvested" is a reference to the grapes being harvested at the time of the full moon rather than just a night harvest. Dark and robust, this dry, full bodied red is soft with a creamy texture and shows a complex mix of blackberry, smoky notes, coffee, herbs, and black tea, it is very approachable now. $30


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