Located to the east of Lisbon and covering a full third of Portugal the Alentejo emerged over the last 20 years as the leader of Portugal’s renaissance as a premium wine producing country. Wine has been made in the Alentejo since Roman times and some houses have been making consistently good wine since the last century. More recently the Alentejo has attracted investment, talent and ambition in equal measure and today some 45% of all wine drunk in Portugal is produced in the Alentejo.
The Alentejo’s reliable warm to hot climate, consistency of vintages, improved use of premium grape varieties and state of the art winemaking have all played a part in the renaissance. The warm, dry climatic conditions are excellent for producing healthy, ripe grapes with adequate sugar levels, mature red berry flavours and soft, ripe tannins. Winemakers have excellent raw materials to work with and have dedicated much time and effort to transform them into well balanced wines. An Alentejo style has emerged which is uncomplicated and fruit driven and proven to be very appealing. Alentejo style winemaking is very similar to that found in South Australia utilising ripe, healthy fruit in a warm to hot climate, with picking taking place as optimum ripeness is achieved.
The Howard’s Folly team looked for a property in the northern part of the Alentejo where the slightly cooler ripening conditions would provide for a more elegant and balanced wine with lifted fruit aromatics and not too much alcohol. The vineyard at Pacos de Camöes provides for all of these opportunities, combining the right grape varieties, cool climatic conditions, and loamy granite and schist soil types. We work hard at the viticulture to ensure an exposed, healthy leaf area with bunch thinning to produce grapes at between 6 – 7 tonnes/hectare. Drip irrigation is used as an aid to fruit quality, ensuring adequate soil moisture and slow, even ripening.
“The warm, dry Alentejo region in the south east is probably the country’s most promising source of full-bodied, deep-coloured, accessible table wine, sold mainly as Vinho Regional Alentejano .…Australian, David Baverstock, who tired of making nothing but port in the Douro, is exporting increasingly interesting wines…. there are many exciting individual estate…….. Prices here are still reasonable and this is certainly one of the most promising wine regions in the world”
“Its growth and increasing quality make Alentejo one more wine region to put on your list. Here is your chance to get ahead of the curve, because in the next decade there are going to be an increasing number of wines that people will want to talk about coming from Alentejo. There is already a substantial core group that is impressive and intriguing, and of course the region is chock full of fine bargains. Influential winemaker David Baverstock runs Herdade do Esporäo. He helped shape the early years at prominent Douro wineries like Quinta do Crasto. Quinta de la Rosa and Fojo ….whether you are a bargain hunter or a trophy hunter, you will ignore Alentejo at your peril”