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Alentejo

Alentejo is often referred to as the "California of Portugal". And indeed many top producers make their wines here strictly according to market demand, that is to say free from the constraints of tradition. Nevertheless, wines from long-established varieties are gaining ground again.

History, geography and climate

Amphorae discovered during archaeological excavations provide evidence that viticulture was already widely practised in Alentejo in pre-Roman times. Winemaking first blossomed under the Romans. However, wine production suffered a major setback when Arab tribes conquered the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century. The 16th century then saw the beginnings of a revival. Portugal's first winemakers' cooperative was founded here in 1885. For around the last 20 years investors have been generating a new winemaking boom in Alentejo.
The Alentejo wine region extends from the south of Lisbon to the coastal Algarve region. It has predominantly red clay soils in the south, along with slate and granite. Grapevines are cultivated up to altitudes of 700 metres in the eastern part of the region.
Its climate is characterized by extremely hot and dry springs and summers. However, although at 600 millimetres a year the rainfall is low and subregions such as Moura or Reguengos are very hot, Alentejo also has cooler parts, such as along the coast or in the northeastern Portalegre region.

Wines

High-end Alentejo wines are generally blends of different varieties characterized by dark berry fruit complemented by floral and oaky notes. Despite their opulence, today's wines no longer lack balance and elegance. The white crus are often surprisingly digestible and fresh.

Varieties

Arinto, Roupeiro, Antão Vaz (all white) and Trincadeira, Aragonês, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (all red)

Vineyard area

Around 22,000 hectares