When the Alqueva Dam project was originally being planned in the 1970s, José Roquette and Joaquim Bandeira began planning an equally ambitious vineyard project on what would become the lake shore, in Reguengos de Monsaraz. The Revolution of 1974 sent the project into hibernation and the dam did not get completed until 2002, but the vineyard at Herdade de Esporão got its start soon after political tensions settled down in the Alentejo. That’s when the first vines went in at the Canto do Zé Cruz Vineyard, officially registered in 1980.
Now, the Herdade de Esporão includes 1,700 acres of vines, habitats for native flora and fauna, particularly birds, and a Michelin one-star restaurant. The wide range of wines includes the 2014 Alentejo Canto do Zé Cruz Aragonez, a red that 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.
Among the estate’s more casual reds, the 2020 Alentejano Monte Velho Red is 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
Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.
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