Portugal’s Alentejo province is known mainly for its cork production. However, it is also one of the premier wine regions in Portugal. The Alentejo’s excellent table wines are often found in bars and restaurants in Portugal due to their availability, quality, and price.
Alentejo is one of the largest regions in Portugal, encompassing about one third of the total land mass. It lies south-west of the São Mamede mountains, with the Spanish border to the east and the Algarve region to the south. The region is mostly flat, with beautiful rolling hills and vast planes covered with olive trees and cork oaks.
The weather in the Alentejo region swings dramatically from bitter winter frosts to hot, dry summers. This makes wine production especially difficult. The heat of the summers favors red wines, though expert winemakers produce both reds and whites of exceptional quality.
Because of the wide range of soil types in the region, a great number of different grape varieties can be grown. The region’s foremost grape is a white grape, called the Antão Vaz. Its strong fruit flavor and acidity are excellent for making barrel fermented wines.
Alentejo’s wine is labeled as Vinho Regional Alentejano, or Regional Alentejo wine. However, this label includes several DOC sub-regions: Borba, Évora, Reguengos, Redondo, Moura, Vidigueira, Granja, and Portalegre. These sub-regions are almost never mentioned in labeling, so that winemakers can take advantage of the marketing power of the Vinho Regional Alentejano umbrella name.
Some grapes you might find in Alentejo wines include Arinto, Roupeiro, Tempranillo, Alicante Bouschet, Alfrocheiro, Abundante, Periquita, Fernão Pires, Rabo de Ovelha and Trincadeira.