One of our favorite places to revisit and explore is the southern Alentejo (ah-len-tay-zhoo) region of Portugal. Renowned for its versatility, the region cultivates over 250 varietals across a range of climates and altitudes. It is also a very budget-flexible region, offering something suitable at a wide range of price points.
Before adjourning for the holiday recess, we were invited to a tasting session curated by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein. The wines selected were carefully chosen, taking into consideration such factors as altitude, grape selection, sustainability initiatives, and regional popularity. Thoughts on all wines tasted follow.
2021 Fitapreta Tinto – A blend of 40% Aragonês, 30% Alicante Bouschet, 20% Trincadeira, and 10% Castelão aged in 2nd and 3rd use French oak for 9 months. Loaded with blackberry, raspberry, and currants at its core with a big note of pepper, you’d be forgiven to mistake this for a Carmenere. The finish is medium-length, and I wish it were longer, as the cedar and grilled rosemary on the finish add delightful character to a wine already filled with complexity. One of the best of this cohort. A- / $27
2017 Jose Maria da Fonseca Jose de Sousa – A blend of 58% Grand Noir, 22% Trincadeira, and 20% Aragonês pouring deep red in the glass and full of spice, tobacco leaf, and dark fruit. The palate is incredibly balanced with enough dark fruit and earthy notes to keep things constantly evolving and engaging. A solid buy at double its asking price. A- / $20
2022 Herdade de Malhadinha Nova Antão Vaz da Malhadinha Branco – 100% Antão Vaz. Clean with Honeycrisp apple and white flowers running throughout with light notes of pear and tropical fruit on the palate. Creamy texture with light acidity and medium-length finish. Refreshing and very clean, but it works better with a food pairing than a standalone glass. B+ / $30
2021 Quinta da Fonte Souto Branco – This year’s vintage remains faithful in construction from previous years (75% Arinto and 25% Verdelho). And much like past offerings, it remains highly approachable with aromas of melon, papaya, and lemon zest giving way to a faint trace of pineapple. Medium-bodied with layers of peach and citrus on the palate work towards a dry finish medium in length showing faint touches of oak and baking spice. Consistently on the mark, and this vintage is no exception. B+ / $29
2018 Alexandre Relvas Herdade de São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada Tinto – This requires a minimum of an hour of air or a decanting before diving in. On the nose, overpowering waves of balsamic and blackberry eventually find balance with notes of minerality and raspberry coming to the fore. The palate fares much better with black cherry and mild pepper cutting through. The tannins are minimal to moderate and the low acidity lets this shine. The dark fruit runs through to the finish, with some light notes of violet and tobacco leaf adding dimension. Allowing for some rest lets this shine, so plan accordingly. B+ / $16
2021 Herdade de Rocim Alicante Bouschet – Overly sweet with black fruit at first that eventually sorts itself out to find some minerality. A bit of violet and milk chocolate on the palate deliver much-needed dimension, although it takes time to get there. Decent acidity and tannins do not make this a chore to get through, and some mild spice and vanilla on the finish from the oak aging nicely conclude matters. B / $23