domingo, 19 de agosto de 2012

Alentejo Wine Region


ALENTEJO WINE

Alentejo (Vinho do Alentejo, Alentejo wines) is Portuguese wine region located in the Alentejo region of the country. The entire region is entitled to use the Vinho Regional designation Alentejano VR, while some areas are also classified at the higher Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) level under the designation Alentejo DOC. VR is similar to the French vin de pays and DOC to the French AOC. Located in the southern half of Portugal, the Alentejo region covers about a third of the country and is sparsely populated. The region is noted for it vast cork production but has in recent years garnered attention for its table wine production.

ALENTEJO WINE REGION

Alentejo, doc and vinho regional (known as Vinho Regional Alentejano) in southern Portugal corresponding with a province of the same name. In complete contrast to the north, this is a sparsely populated region where cereal farms and cork plantations (latifundios) stretch as far as the eye can see. These large farms offer considerable ecomomies of scale compared with the smallholdings (minifundios) of northern Portugal.

For centuries, the Alentejo’s main link with wine was cork. Over half the world’s supply of cork is grown in Portugal and almost all of it is stripped from the cork oaks that fleck the vast Alentejo wheat fields. Southern Portugal bore the brunt of the military-led revolution that rocked the Lisbon establishment in 1974 and 1975 and, at the beginning of the 1980s, the economy of the Alentejo was in complete disarray, but over the next decade or so five vineyard enclaves emerged from the confusion. The towns of Portalegre, Borba, Redondo, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Ganja-amareleja, and Vidiguira each had Cooperative wineries built with government support in the pre-revolutionary 1960s and early 1970s. Until the early 1990s they produced wines for the undemanding local market but, with financial assistance from the European Union, they have begun to tap the Alentejo’s wine-making potential and export their wines. Likewise single estates, all of which were returned to their former owners, are emerging with new wines. Vineyards now cover over 20,000 hectares of land.

The climate in much of the Alentejo is not naturally conducive to the production of fine wine, but modern technology can compensate for natural deficiencies, irrigation supplements an annual rainfall total which rarely reaches 600 mm/23 in. Temperatures in the summer months frequently exceed 35 or even 40 °C (104 °F), so for white grapes which ripen as early as mid-August, sophisticated temperature contro is essential. The production of red wine, principally from Aragonez, Trincadeira, Moreto, and Castelao grapes, exceeds white, although some growers see potential in white varieties such as Roupeiro and Antao Vaz. A number of producers are now making promising wines from Syrah. Seven IPR regions were designated in the Alentejo around the six cooperatives listed above, together with Evora, and Moura. All of these are now subregions within the Alentejo DOC and feature as such on wine labels.  

SUBREGIONS

There are eight subregions of the Alentejo region that are entitled to the Alentejo DOC designation. The names of the subregions may be indicated on the label together with the name Alentejo, for example as Alentejo-Borba. These subregions were initially created as separate Indicação de Proveniencia Regulamentada (IPR) wine regions, after which some were elevated to DOC status. In 2003, these separate DOCs and IPRs were put together as the Alentejo DOC. Listed from north to south the eight subregions are the following.

- Portalegre (formerly a DOC)
- Borba (formerly a DOC)
- Redondo (formerly a DOC)
- Evora (formerly an IPR)
- Reguengos (formerly a DOC)
- Granja-Amareleja (formerly an IPR)
- Vidigueira (formerly a DOC)
- Moura (formerly an IPR)

GRAPES

The principle grapes of the Alentejo region includes Abundante, Alfrocheiro Preto, Alicante Bouschet, Antao Vaz, Arinto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Chardonnay, Diagalves, Fernao Pires, Grand Noir, Manteudo, Moreto, Palomino, Periquita, Rabo de Ovelha, Tempranillo and Trincadeira.

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