Review: Wines of Portugal’s Alentejo, 2021 Releases
We’ve ventured into Portugal’s southern Alentejo region a few times before and remarked how it’s a solid area that produces a great range of wine styles — over 250 indigenous grape varieties can be found here — invariably at affordable prices. Representatives for the region recently sent us a quartet of wines representing the state of current release for the Alentejo, so let’s dig in.
2020 Casa Relvas Herdade São Miguel Rosé – A rose made from touriga nacional, aragonez, and syrah. It’s quite lively and slightly sweet, with notes of sesame oil, white flowers, and lemon peel all well represented. A creamy body gives the wine enough power to back up what might otherwise come across as overly delicate. A- / $15
2018 Cartuxa EA Red Blend – 35% aragonez, 30% trincadeira, 20% alicante bouschet, 15% syrah. This sub-$10 wine should be as good as it is, but the unusual palate, featuring notes of hibiscus, blueberry jam, and milk chocolate. It’s definitely on the sweet side, particularly on the finish, but this actually works pretty well with the overload of berry-heavy fruit that powers the palate. For all of 9 bucks, you could do a lot worse. B+ / $9
2018 Carmim Monsaraz Reserva Red – A blend of alicante bouchet, trincadeira, and touriga nacional. Full of fruit, this wine doesn’t stray from a fairly narrow mission of offering plump red berries, vanilla, some spice, and a soothing milk chocolate finish that eventually finds room for a twist of black pepper. One of the lighter and more ephemeral wines in this collection, I’d say it’d make a great base for sangria if that wasn’t generally seen as an insult. A solid summer wine, all the same. B+ / $16
2019 Herdade do Rocim Amphora Tinto – 50% moreto, 30% tinta grossa, 15% trincadeira, and 5% aragonez. My least favorite wine in this collection, Rocim’s Amphora has a fairly intense vegetal character, then moves into a heavily sweetened character. Big with black plums, milk chocolate, and candylike vanilla, the palate ultimately comes across as inauthentic and a bit underwhelming, an unusual outlier in this collection (particularly since it’s the most expensive). B- / $18
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