Focus on Alentejo – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Focus on Alentejo


91             Herdade do Rocim     $18     Alentejo Mariana Espumante (Best Buy)
This is arinto grown in schist and sand, fermented in stainless steel with a secondary fermentation in bottle. A light, earthy sparkler with some lemon and leesy notes, it starts off relatively neutral, but then reveals umami sensations of button mushrooms and parsnips in a completely dry finish. Go Portuguese with grilled baby octopus or Japanese with unagi in an enamel box. Shiverick Imports, Los Angeles, CA

91             Monte Branco     $15     2020 Alentejano Alento Branco (Best Buy)
Based in Estremoz, Luís Louro heads up the winemaking team at Monte Branco, blending this white from arinto (50 percent), with antão vaz and roupeiro. It’s a white made in stainless steel with lees stirring to bring in the rich florals of fresh cream, while the fruit sustains an equally fresh sense of pears. The impression is bright, sunny and cool, all about freshness. ALT Wines, Coral Gables, FL

90             Cartuxa     $12     2020 Alentejano EA White Blend (Best Buy)
This is half roupeiro, a third antão vaz and the balance arinto, a light luncheon wine with bright lemon perfume and nectarine sweetness in the end. There’s a note of pink grapefruit to the zesty acidity, to pour with sole pan-roasted with lemon and thyme. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

90             Herdade da Rocha     $19     2020 Alentejo White (Best Buy)
Half alvarinho in its white peach tones, half arinto in its floral green almond bitterness, this is a totally Portuguese white: Perfumed by its grapes, dry in its bitter nut savor, clean and at the ready for a fish stew—or *arroz de tamboril at a café in Evora. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

88             Herdade do Rocim     $14     2020 Alentejo Mariana Branco (Best Buy)
The broad base of antão vaz enriches this blend with arinto and alvarinho. Its pale apple flavors and earthy green notes of carrot tops makes it a white for a creamy butternut squash soup. Shiverick Imports, Los Angeles, CA

87             Adega de Portalegre     $12     2019 Portalegre Conventual Branco (Best Buy)
A light, floral and saline white, this is a blend of arinto, roupeiro and antão vaz, grown in the cooler elevations of the northern Alentejo. The wine ends with some leesy grape-skin tannins, ready for oysters. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

91             Adega de Borba     $18     2018 Alentejo Reserva Tinto (Best Buy)
Mostly aragonez and trincadeira, this wine’s red currant fruit drives through the finish, layered over black fig, lasting with a note of jasmine. It’s friendly, pretty and light in the end, to pour with grilled skewers of pork, bay leaves and crusty bread. LGL Imports, Fall River, MA

90             Adega de Borba     $15     2019 Alentejo Premium (Best Buy)
As this wine’s mineral reduction begins to dissipate, the fruit comes up in sanguine tones of red raspberry and rhubarb. That bloody, vegetal phase passes into a brighter vermillion trincadeira (50 percent of the blend), opening to a crush of rose petals. Decant it for roast squab, or other dark meat game birds. LGL Imports, Fall River, MA

90             Herdade do Rocim     $16     2019 Alentejo (Best Buy)
This wine’s red currant and green olive notes hide behind a blunt and heady structure, needing a day of air to reveal their intriguing complexities. Austere at first, it gains in depth and length in a juicy rain of berries and pomegranate. The flavors last on savory notes of rosemary and wild herbs, tight and fresh. For an herb-roasted chicken. Shiverick Imports, Los Angeles, CA

90             Herdade da Rocha     $19     2017 Alentejo Red (Best Buy)
Alicante bouschet is the closest thing to a local variety in this blend (it’s French, in fact, but thrives in Alentejo). One half is touriga nacional, one third is syrah, and the wine’s very berry flavor is surrounded in umami—fresh pressed olive oil, black mushroom, kale and cardoons. Decant it for grilled sardines. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

90             Jose de Sousa     $19     2018 Alentejano Herdade do Monte da Ribeira (Best Buy)
Domingos Soares Franco focused this vintage on grand noir (52 percent), blending in trincadeira and aragonez. It’s dry and austerely tannic, needing air to bring up the richness and a steak to bring the raspberry ahead of the raspberry-seed flavors. There’s an intriguing earthy barnyard character even as the wine finishes clean. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

88             Pera-Grave     $7     2018 Alentejano Vinho Tinto (Best Buy)
Equal parts aragonez, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and alicante bouschet, this purple-fruited wine is a blunt object, but a good, simple one. And it seems completely ridiculous that it could cost what it does. A little strawberry, a little earth. As one panelist exclaimed, “For $7? Yes, please!” Aidil Wines & Liquors, Newark, NJ

88             Carmim     $10     2019 Alentejano Terras d'el Rei (Best Buy)
This wine’s luscious black fruit has a grape and plum jam flavor. It’s ripe with tannins that carry the scent of smoky black tea. For a hearty stew. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

88             Casa Santos Lima     $11     2019 Alentejano Monte das Promessas Tinto (Best Buy)
Richly ripe, this earthy wine focuses on touriga nacional and syrah, providing a perfumed warmth that sits between medicinal and mineral. It’s herbal and rustically earthy, for an equally rustic stew. New France Wine, St. Paul, MN

88             Adega de Portalegre     $12     2018 Portalegre Conventual Tinto (Best Buy)
Clean and fresh, this may be a simple, grapy red but there is some easy grace to its texture. Its black-grape and black-cherry flavors are peppery, open and airy, a light wine for Sunday suppers. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

88             Cortes de Cima     $15     2019 Alentejano Chamine (Best Buy)
A grape-scented red with the coolness of an earthen cellar, this balances its sweetness with pithy acidity and light tannins. It’s an easy match for grilled meats. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

88             Merino     $16     2018 Alentejo Old Vines (Best Buy)
Clean and fragrant in a ripe style, this wine’s sweet plum and raspberry flavors are bright and inviting. The tannins have a grape skin and stem savor to balance the sweetness of the fruit. For brisket. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

87             Herdade do Esporao     $10     2020 Alentejano Monte Velho (Best Buy)
A sunny, fun-loving Alentejo blend highlighting aragonez and trincadeira, this wine’s honeyed fruit has jammy warmth, with enough stem tannins to keep it vibrant and lifted. Serve it with a slight chill. Now Wine Imports, Livingston, NJ

87             Cartuxa     $12     2019 Alentejano EA Tinto (Best Buy)
This blend’s super-ripe plum flavors are a dark, smoky appeal. The tannins mix the savor of baking chocolate with an herbal note of rosemary. Warm and rich. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

87             Joao Portugal Ramos     $13     2019 Alentejano Ramos Reserva (Best Buy)
This plummy red has simple flavors of grape jam. Its smooth texture belies some austere tannins that come up in the end, needing a steak to allay them. Winebow, NY

86             Merino     $10     2020 Alentejano Merino (Best Buy)
An austere red with juicy blueberry jam flavors and bloody black tannins, this will add some spice to stuffed grape leaves. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY
91             Herdade do Rocim     $18     Alentejo Mariana Espumante (Best Buy)
This is arinto grown in schist and sand, fermented in stainless steel with a secondary fermentation in bottle. A light, earthy sparkler with some lemon and leesy notes, it starts off relatively neutral, but then reveals umami sensations of button mushrooms and parsnips in a completely dry finish. Go Portuguese with grilled baby octopus or Japanese with unagi in an enamel box. Shiverick Imports, Los Angeles, CA
92             Adega de Portalegre     $37     2017 Portalegre Branco Estate Bottled
A subtle bical with depths of quince flavor, this builds over the course of several days, all of its power delicately delivered. Notes of heather, green grass, green fig and almond skin emerge in the floral scents, along with something darker, like berries in the fall. “There’s something in the finish that I want to sit and contemplate,” said Jenna May Cass of Départ Wine in Great Barrington, MA. It’s clean and the flavors are still incipient, even at four years of age. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

91             Symington Family Estates     $25     2019 Alentejo Quinta da Fonte Souto Branco
In the northern hills of Alentejo, this vineyard rises to altitudes of 1,800 feet, a different setting than the heat of the plains to the south. This wine focuses on arinto with 25 percent verdelho, the combination fermented in 500-liter oak barrels (60 percent) and in stainless steel. It sees a mix of barrels and steel for aging, but the wood is less prominent than the lees impact at the moment, and the lees underscore creamy notes of lemon and orange, their ripeness saturating the wine. Premium Port Wines, San Francisco, CA

91             Monte Branco     $15     2020 Alentejano Alento Branco (Best Buy)
Based in Estremoz, Luís Louro heads up the winemaking team at Monte Branco, blending this white from arinto (50 percent), with antão vaz and roupeiro. It’s a white made in stainless steel with lees stirring to bring in the rich florals of fresh cream, while the fruit sustains an equally fresh sense of pears. The impression is bright, sunny and cool, all about freshness. ALT Wines, Coral Gables, FL

91             Quinta do Paral     $35     2018 Alentejano Reserva Branco
This blend of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay grows at an estate in Vidigueira, where it takes these French varieties in an unexpected direction. After the initial hit of oak, the flavors expand in pale vegetal tones of Jerusalem artichoke, water chestnut, bitter melon and turmeric. There’s freshness from the sauvignon blanc, a parsley note against all of chardonnay’s umami. The wine belongs in Macau, with steamed pork buns. Kindred Vines, Troy, MI

90             Cartuxa     $12     2020 Alentejano EA White Blend (Best Buy)
This is half roupeiro, a third antão vaz and the balance arinto, a light luncheon wine with bright lemon perfume and nectarine sweetness in the end. There’s a note of pink grapefruit to the zesty acidity, to pour with sole pan-roasted with lemon and thyme. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

90             Herdade do Esporao     $16     2020 Alentejano Colheita
The team at Esporão obtained organic certification for the estate vineyard, farming antão vaz and viosinho in schist-derived clay soils for this blend. The flavors developed with four months on the lees, opening to a golden, honeyed smokiness while sustaining freshness, a round and supple white for roast fish. Now Wine Imports, Livingston, NJ

90             Herdade do Esporao     $22     2019 Alentejo Esporao Reserva White Blend
A selection from the estate’s organically farmed antão vaz, arinto and roupeiro, this blend is partially fermented and aged in new American and French oak barrels (30 percent; the rest in stainless steel). The oak tannins are apparent when the bottle is first opened, but they fade behind the bright, floral white fruit fragrance. The lemony acidity and waxy texture make it a white for meaty roast fish. Now Wine Imports, Livingston, NJ

90             Adega de Portalegre     $25     2018 Portalegre Conventual Reserva Branco
From the slopes of the Serra de São Mamede, this is a blend of arinto (40 percent) with equal parts fernão pires, roupeiro and bical. The fruit handles its barrel age with delicate simplicity, layering mustard seed and meaty savor under fresh pear and floral notes. It feels clean and cool, to decant for roast veal. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

90             Herdade da Rocha     $19     2020 Alentejo White (Best Buy)
Half alvarinho in its white peach tones, half arinto in its floral green almond bitterness, this is a totally Portuguese white: Perfumed by its grapes, dry in its bitter nut savor, clean and at the ready for a fish stew—or *arroz de tamboril at a café in Evora. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI
90             Quinta da Fonte Souto     $25     2020 Alentejo
An early harvest of aragonez at this estate provides a fresh, berry-scented rosé, a clean, simple wine that offers refreshment in its lasting notes of wild herbs, grapefruit and salt. Pour it with cured ham, or roast suckling pig. Premium Port Wines, San Francisco, CA
93             Herdade do Esporao     $45     2014 Alentejo Canto do Ze Cruz
The Canto do Zé Cruz Vineyard was the first to be planted at Esporão, officially registered in 1980. This 2014 carries the heat of the Alentejo plain, the vines cooled with rainwater from the estate’s reservoir irrigating their roots, sustaining the subtle elegance of mature-vine aragonez (aka tempranillo). Age has taken the texture toward silk, while the fruit still tastes fresh and vibrant, with youthful stamina to fill the textural richness. A lovely young wine at seven years of age, this is destined to live long in your cellar. Now Wine Imports, Livingston, NJ

92             Herdade do Rocim     $23     2019 Alentejano
This grows at a block of 40-year-old vines on the sandy schist and granite soils of Vidigueira. The grapes are foot-trodden in *lagares, with fermentation allowed to start spontaneously. Then its black-black-cherry flavors pick up some caramelization from a year in oak barrels (40 percent new). It’s heady and relatively soft for the variety, the ripe tannins unlocking red cherry and blueberry flavors as the wine opens with air. Pour it with something hearty but lean, like a pork tenderloin. Shiverick Imports, Los Angeles, CA

91             Julio Bastos     $135     2015 Alentejo JB
In the mid-1980s, Julio Bastos hired a young winemaker, João Portugal Ramos, to help him commercialize the wine his family had made for more than a century at the Quinta do Carmo, a property just outside of Estremoz, originally built by Portugal’s King João IV for a member of his court. The wine caught the attention of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), and the ensuing joint venture eventually sold to the Bacalhôa group; Bastos had given up the name, but he held onto the original house and property where this wine grows. It’s archetypal alicante bouschet as expressed in the marble-flecked soils of Estremoz, perfumed in its red flower and green fennel notes, plummy and cherry-laden in its tart fruit, burly in its gently insistent tannins. At six years old, it’s still young and tight. M.S. Walker, Somerville, MA

90             Herdade da Rocha     $37     2018 Alentejo
This wine’s bold color the first indication of its ripeness, followed by scents of forest berries and flavors of prunes in puff pastry. The alcohol is prodigious, even as the wine bristles with acidity, ready to decant for short ribs. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

90             Herdade do Rocim     $16     2019 Alentejo (Best Buy)
This wine’s red currant and green olive notes hide behind a blunt and heady structure, needing a day of air to reveal their intriguing complexities. Austere at first, it gains in depth and length in a juicy rain of berries and pomegranate. The flavors last on savory notes of rosemary and wild herbs, tight and fresh. For an herb-roasted chicken. Shiverick Imports, Los Angeles, CA

94             Quinta do Paral     $50     2018 Vidigueira Vinhas Velhas Tinto
This old-vine blend is equal parts aragonez and tinta grossa, fermented in *lagares and aged in French oak. All that oxygen-rich winemaking only serves to point up the wine’s freshness, centered on fruit, its black currant, damson plum and green fig flavors tightened up by herbal notes of rosemary and fennel. Then it lasts on scents of roses, a clean, bright take on the soils of Vidigueira and the local vines they sustain. It will wake up your mouth with braised lamb. Kindred Vines, Troy, MI

94             Adega de Portalegre     $25     2019 Portalegre Conventual Reserva Tinto
The blend includes trincadeira (40 percent) with equal parts alicante bouschet and touriga nacional. This is brisk and cool, with a soft mineral bath of tannins. That earthy underpinning includes scents of fresh woodland mushrooms under hints of roses and a light perfumed note of violet pastilles. There’s tension between the grape-skin tannins and the satin-textured fruit, a balance that would suit grilled lamb with green olives. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

94             Casa de Sabicos     $40     2018 Alentejo Reserva
Joaquim Madeira makes the wines at his family’s property in Montoito, just to the north of Reguengos de Monsaraz. To sustain the freshness of the fruit, he harvests at night and ferments in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats. It ages for a year in French oak barrels, then in bottle in a cool cellar. The result is a wine with intense freshness to cut through its substantial weight (it’s equal parts trincadeira and aragonez, with 15 percent each of alicante bouschet and cabernet sauvignon). Summery and bright in its red raspberry and currant flavors, it’s also anchored and structured by broad, tobacco-rich tannins. Ready to decant for seared duck breast, this has the stamina to age. Le Wine Importer, Oakland, CA

93             Quinta da Fonte Souto     $55     2018 Alentejo Vinha do Souto
From the Symington’s estate in Portalegre, a 510-acre property with 106 planted to vines, this grows at the foot of the Serra de São Mamede, at elevations rising to 1,800 feet. The top selection of alicante bouschet and syrah at the estate, this ages in French oak, pointing up the richness of the pomegranate-red fruit and adding a note of smoke and char to the tannins. A smooth mineral riff plays out through the finish, expanding with air, drawing you back for another sip. Premium Port Wines, San Francisco, CA

93             Casa Relvas     $35     2018 Alentejano Herdade de Sao Miguel Reserva
This estate blend grows in the clay and schist soils of Redondo, east of Evora. It’s based on alicante bouschet (70 percent), with touriga nacional, trincadeira and a little cabernet sauvignon, the fruit macerated then fermented in *lagares before aging in large-format French oak barrels. Even as the vintage saw some extreme heat, this wine maintains its cool—like standing close to a cold mountain waterfall, one panelist said. The freshness comes through in scents of red raspberries and roses, along with an iron-like mineral edge to the tannins. Dense and spicy, this wine has lovely depth and richness that suits it to short-term aging, though it feels fully accessible now. Quintessential, Napa, CA

93             Herdade do Rocim     $47     2018 Alentejo Olho do Mocho Tinto Single
Catarina Vieira and Pedro Ribeiro make this wine from an estate parcel at Rocim’s vineyard, located between Vidigueira and Cuba. A blend of alicante bouschet and trincadeira grown in granite and schist soils, it combines full-on fruit with the surround-sound of stony minerals, sunny grapes meeting a gentle but persistent structure. Panelists immediately wanted steak with this wine to meet its green-peppercorn spice. Clean, smooth and, as one panelist said, “just delicious.” Shiverick Imports, Los Angeles, CA

93             Sericaia     $41     2015 Alentejo Tapada do Coronel
Sónia Martins works with a vineyard in Portalegre’s Serra de São Mamede, where this blend of alicante bouschet (50 percent) with aragonez, trincadeira and moreto benefits from the cool altitude to brighten its lusty richness. Along with an herbal note of thyme and winter savory, there’s a subtle scent of barnyard, the earthiness that points toward Brett, but the fruit is persistent, providing the layered memory in the end. A fine evocation of the northern Alentejo. Lusovini USA, Newark, NJ

92             Herdade dos Coelheiros     $40     2016 Alentejo Tapada de Coelheiros Tinto
This grows at an estate in Igrejinha, west of Estremoz; the property extends over 2,000 acres, mostly cork forests, with a winery surrounded by 124 acres of vines. In his first vintage at the estate, Luís Patrão focused this wine on cabernet sauvignon (70 percent), with its herbal edges and freshness shining a beam of light on the dark tannins of alicante bouschet. Notes of strawberries, raspberries and Macintosh apple provide a brisk tension to the wine’s richness, impeded only by some oak influence in the end. That may integrate further with a year of bottle age. Grape2Glass, Newark, NJ

92             Jose Maria da Fonseca     $50     2017 Alentejo Jose de Sousa Mayor
Domingos Soares Franco selects this fruit from seven acres of vines at this historic estate in Reguengos de Monsaraz. When his family purchased the property in 1986, he set out to build the collection of amphorae, now working with 114 clay pots. He ferments a portion of the blend in amphora, including 30 percent as whole clusters; the balance ferments in *lagares. A blend of grand noir, trincadeira and aragonez, it comes together as a wine with deep black currant and cranberry flavors, lengthened by gracious tannins, with a gentle, fragrant bitterness—like fresh walnuts and tobacco. It’s a style suited to aging. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

92             Adega de Portalegre     $37     2018 Portalegre Tinto
This wine has an old-fashioned opulence, its generous texture and violet perfume held against the earthy edge of the tannins. Those tannins are hard against the wine’s voluptuous flavors, turning them toward game. A clean blend of alicante bouschet, trincadeira, aragonez, grand noir and castelão, this is ready to decant for roast venison. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

92             Herdade da Rocha     $30     2018 Alentejo Reserva Red
First planted in 2009, the vineyards at Herdade da Rocha are located on the plain west of Portalegre, in the northern Alentejo. This blend includes 60 percent alicante bouschet, the balance syrah, and the relatively young vines give a joyous crush of berry fruit. That fruit is bright and peppery, while the texture is supple, carrying the wine’s energy with grace. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

92             Herdade das Servas     $28     2017 Alentejano Sem Barrica
Grown in Estremoz, where the soils are red clay over limestone and schist, this blend of alicante bouschet (70 percent) and alfrocheiro sees no oak in the cellar. It ferments in *lagares and stainless-steel vats, then ages in stainless steel for seven months, followed by six months in bottle. Now four years old, its fruit is still floral and fresh, with dark berry and black cherry richness highlighted by anise and licorice notes. It’s brisk and clean, suited to roast duck. Body & Soul, East Providence, RI

92             Herdade do Sobroso     $135     2019 Alentejo Arche
Felipe Teixeira Pinto and Luís Duarte collaborate on the wines from this Vidigueira estate, including Arché, their top selection, a blend of touriga nacional, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and alicante bouschet. The wine aged for a year in new 500-liter French oak barrels, where it picked up dark woodland tones without diminishing its supercharged tannins. The fruit is black and musky, with some cranberry tones coming through. A powerful young wine, this needs several years of age to reveal its complexities. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

91             Adega Vidigueira, Cuba & Alvito     $23     2019 Alentejo Grande Escolha Tinto
The soils of Vidigueira promote high acidity in the local trincadeira, which makes up 60 percent of this blend. It has the high tones of red apple and pink grapefruit. The balance is alicante bouschet, contributing its tannins, creating a dark contrast to the sunniness of the fruit. Oak adds to the intensity, a little aggressive and needing time to integrate into the wine. Built to cut through the richness of braised trotters. City Moonlight, NY

91             Adega de Borba     $18     2018 Alentejo Reserva Tinto (Best Buy)
Mostly aragonez and trincadeira, this wine’s red currant fruit drives through the finish, layered over black fig, lasting with a note of jasmine. It’s friendly, pretty and light in the end, to pour with grilled skewers of pork, bay leaves and crusty bread. LGL Imports, Fall River, MA

91             Ciconia     $22     2019 Alentejano Red Blend
Along with its lovely red berry flavors, this wine delivers a supple, honeyed texture that feels both cool and lush. It’s tart raspberry and thyme flavors will take on an Oaxacan stewed chicken mole. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

91             Monte Branco     $28     2017 Alentejano Alento Reserva Tinto
A lush and sunny blend of aragonez and alicante bouschet grown in schist soils, this includes ten percent each of touriga nacional and syrah. The clean tannins have a plum-skin feel, edging the violet-scented fruit and completing it. Pour it with porky rillettes. ALT Wines, Coral Gables, FL

91             Casa Relvas     $23     2019 Alentejano Herdade de Sao Miguel Escolha dos Enologos
This wine’s clay and schist soils come through in an intriguing mineral edge to the tannins, tightening around the luscious warm-plum flavors. The mineral character feels like it’s integrated into the acidity and alcohol as well, taking the rooty earthiness toward sarsaparilla. A blend of alicante bouschet, tourigas franca and nacional, this will benefit from a year or two of bottle age. Quintessential, Napa, CA

91             Herdade das Servas     $50     2015 Alentejano Reserva Tinto
The Mira family farms 865 acres of vines between Borba and Estremoz, where they have been making wine for more than three centuries. They only make their Reserva in better vintages, blending alicante bouschet (50 percent) with cabernet sauvignon, alfrocheiro and aragonez. It has the bold ripeness of fruit grown in the Alentejo plains, a jam of Morello cherries and blackberries that reminded one tasters of a good Paso Robles zin, if it had been grown in the Old World. Body & Soul, East Providence, RI

90             Adega de Borba     $15     2019 Alentejo Premium (Best Buy)
As this wine’s mineral reduction begins to dissipate, the fruit comes up in sanguine tones of red raspberry and rhubarb. That bloody, vegetal phase passes into a brighter vermillion trincadeira (50 percent of the blend), opening to a crush of rose petals. Decant it for roast squab, or other dark meat game birds. LGL Imports, Fall River, MA

90             Adega Cooperativa de Redondo     $50     2017 Alentejano Grande Escolha
Focused on touriga nacional and syrah, this blend delivers simple purity in its cool blackberry and black cherry flavors. The richness of the texture surrounds the spiciness of the syrah, making it a wine for game birds, like duck braised with prunes. Saraiva Enterprises, New Bedford, MA

90             Jose Maria da Fonseca     $80     2017 Alentejo J
A selection of grand noir, tourigas francesa and nacional from a 3.7-acre parcel at the J. de Sousa Rosado Fernandes estate in Reguengos de Monsaraz, this is crushed by foot before fermenting in amphora. It presents a deep well of cranberry flavor, surrounded by volatile notes of orange bitters and grounded in black tannins. Those grape-skin tannins are youthfully tough, needing bottle age to mellow. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

90             Eugenio de Almeida     $22     2017 Alentejo Cartuxa Red
From an estate in Evora, this blend is equal parts alicante bouschet and aragonez, with 20 percent trincadeira. The flavors speak of dried fruits, dusty earth, coffee beans and shiitake. But the warmth of those flavors does not translate into heat in the wine. Instead, it’s rich and soft, ready for smoky barbecue. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

90             Paulo Laureano     $24     2017 Alentejo Private Selection Vinhas Velhas
Alicante bouschet makes up 40 percent of this blend, dominating it with smoky flavors of black mission figs and dried cherries. The fruit is black but yielding in its tannins, intriguing in its layers, ready to decant for braised baby goat with red wine and figs. Grape2Glass, Newark, NJ

90             Herdade da Rocha     $19     2017 Alentejo Red (Best Buy)
Alicante bouschet is the closest thing to a local variety in this blend (it’s French, in fact, but thrives in Alentejo). One half is touriga nacional, one third is syrah, and the wine’s very berry flavor is surrounded in umami—fresh pressed olive oil, black mushroom, kale and cardoons. Decant it for grilled sardines. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

90             Herdade do Sobroso     $24     2018 Alentejo Reserva
This grows at an estate in Vidigueira, a blend of aragonez, trincadeira, alicante bouschet and alfrocheiro that comes together in clean, light strawberry and tobacco flavors. It’s juicy and cool, a little syrupy at first, but the fresh fruit takes over with air as a light mineral edge of tannins helps define it. For braised pork. Brands of Portugal, Rumford, RI

90             Jose de Sousa     $19     2018 Alentejano Herdade do Monte da Ribeira (Best Buy)
Domingos Soares Franco focused this vintage on grand noir (52 percent), blending in trincadeira and aragonez. It’s dry and austerely tannic, needing air to bring up the richness and a steak to bring the raspberry ahead of the raspberry-seed flavors. There’s an intriguing earthy barnyard character even as the wine finishes clean. Tri-Vin, New Rochelle, NY

This feature is featured in our Regional Tasting Report on Alentejo (March 2022). Click here to explore the report.

Joshua Greene is the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.

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