Day 4: Alentejo
I don’t think there is a better place to stay when visiting Alentejo than Evora. All of us took the opportunity to walk through this seemingly frozen-in-the-past walled town. Some of us even made it to the Chapel of Bones in the Cathedral. A sort of lugubrious way to start the day but please check out the photos.
Our first visit was to Fitapreta, a winery started in 2004 by two young guys who met up and without any
money or winery, decided to make wine. Antonio Macanita was Portuguese and David Booth was English and they hit it off.
They started with 2 wines which won awards and it has been one success after another. Unfortunately David died in a car accident in 2011 and Antonio picked up the pieces. With some EU grant money and loans, he bought a ramshackle manor house and restored it and built the winery.
Today Fitapreti has 75 hectares and produces 300,000 bottles annually, 70% red wine.
-barrel sample blend of local grapes
-Fitapreta Branca (white) 2018, blend of Antão Vaz, Roupeiro, Arinto, Rabo de Ovelha, Alicante Bouschet and Tamaraz
-Palpite Branco 2018, a blend of Arinto, Verdelho, Antão Vaz aged 1 year in used barrels, all of the whites had good fruity aromas and crisp acidity
-NV Blend of Castelao, Trincadeira, Aragonez (aka Tempranillo) using solar technique from 2015, 2016, 2017, rust orange color
-Fitapreta Red 2017, a blend of Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, 6 months in tanks, 6 months in barrels, vinous, juicy, easy drinking
-Trincadeiro 2017, no oak, juicy, easy drinking
-Baga 1/2 Sol 2015, 2 years in French oak barrels, forest floor aroma, mushrooms, name comes from fact that the vineyard spends half day in sun, other half in shade
-Preta Tinto 2015, Aragonez (35%), Alicante Bouschet (53%) and Baga (7%), 2 years oak barrels, easy drinking, juicy wines, wines to be consumed, not aged
From Fitapreti, we continued to Estremoz where we visited João Portugal Ramos. This winery was started in 1997 by Ramos in the locality of Vila Santa. Most of the wines (80%) are red.
We learned that Alentejo is the driest area of Portugal and is divided in 8 subregions. This winery is in Borba and the harvest is in August, the earliest in the country.
It’s a big operation, producing a total of 6 million bottles throughout Portugal, with 4.5 million in Alentejo.
Our lunch menu was appetizers of assorted local cheeses and hams, chestnut soup, partridge with creamed spinach and boiled potatoes and desserts of mango semi-freddo, fruit salad and 6 local cheeses.
To accompany the lunch, we had the following wines:
-Marques de Borba 2019, a blend of Arinto which adds tropical flavors, Antão Vaz, Viognier, a crisp, fruity, delicious wine
-Vila Santa White 2017, a blend of Arinto, Alvarinho, Sauvignon Blanc,a very smooth easy drinking wine
-Marques de Borba 2017 Old Vines, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Castelão, Syrah, crushed in marble lagares (we learned that Estremoz is famous for its marble)
-Duorum LBV Port 2014, bottled in 2019, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Touriga Cão, Sousão
Our last visit was to a much smaller winery, Susana Esteban., so small it’s almost impossible to find and no signs, even on the winery. Susana is originally from Spain, came to Portugal and founded the winery in 2011.
She produces 40,000 bottles annually, all from purchased grapes. 60% of the production is red wine.
Her first wine was named “Procura” which means “searching for” the right wine.
She also produces an amphora wine, some dating from 1861, which are fermented with whole clusters and aged for 8 months in the amphora, just like they used to do in Portugal.
-Aventura 2017, a field blend of 15 varieties, fresh, crisp, tutti-frutti
-Procura vinhas velhas 2016, from 40 different varieties in 80 year old vineyards in the region of Serra de São Mamede
-Rosé 2018, a blend of Black Muscatel, Aragonez, and other grapes, good structure
-Aventura 2016, a blend of Aragonez (40%), Touriga Nacional (40%) and 20% ‘others’, deep red ruby, no oak, cassis aromas, dark berries, soft tannins, lingering aftertaste
-Procura 2014, a blend of Alicante Bouschet (55%) and 45% ‘other grapes’, deep red, very tannic, 16 months in barrel, this wine needs time.
Today’s visits had some interesting contrasts in size which is always very interesting to experience.