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Alentejo’s Versatile Reds and Whites

by Eunice Fried

Sep 1, 2018
September 2018

IN LAST MONTH’S COLUMN, I talked about the wines of Alentejo, the Portuguese region that opens like a fan southeast of Lisbon. On my recent trip there, I tasted so many interesting wines I could not mention all in one column. And so, this month, we continue our tour of Alentejo.

At Dona Maria, I tasted wines made of both native Portuguese grapes and international grapes, and there was much to admire in both. The white Amantis Reserva 2015, from the French grape Viognier, offered deep fruit flavors, a pleasant roundness and intense taste. Dona Maria Red Wine 2015 is a blend of half Portuguese grapes, half a combination of mostly French grapes. Together, they produce a pleasant, inviting wine.

Next I tried Dona Maria Touriga Nacional 2015, made from Portugal’s leading native red grape. The nose is so intense, it fairly leaps out of the glass. The taste reminded me of apples. The finish lingered on, a pleasing reminder of a tasty wine.

And there was Dona Maria Grande Reserva 2013, a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and the French grapes Petit Verdot and Syrah, all treaded by foot and fermented in ancient stone lagares.

At Herdade dos Grous, I enjoyed its Branco Reserve 2017, a full, round, white wine, followed by Herdade dos Grous 23 Barricas 2016, a wine that blends Touriga Nacional and Syrah to produce a full-bodied, well-structured, sturdy red.

Its single vineyard 2016 is based on Alicante Bouschet, a grape widely used throughout southern Europe and particularly in Alentejo. The grape proves its versatility once again in Herdade dos Grous’ Red Reserva 2015, which combines it with Touriga Nacional and Tinta Miŭda. Well-integrated with a long, lively finish, it makes the perfect partner to a cheese course.

My final stop was Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, whose Touriga Nacional wine shows the grape in all its vibrancy with a spiciness and hint of oak and vanilla. We finished with Antão Vaz 2016 — smooth, silky and elegant, a fine way to end a visit to Alentejo.

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