Bike Tour in Portugal - The Wines of Alentejoby Bike tour guru
Alex, one of our bike tour guides in Portugal, has provided us with some great information on the wine of the Alentejo region, and why you should be salivating over the tastes. If you're interested in our bike tour in Portugal, Alex's writing is sure to seal the deal, at least for your taste buds.
If wine is your thing, then you will not be disappointed, for the Alentejo is brimming with some of the best world class wine producing vineyards in Portugal. The red wines are massive, somewhere between new world and Rhône in style, powerful, full-on, intense fruit, but with soft round tannins and a long lingering finish. However, what really sets Alentejo wines aside from nearly all other producing countries is the abundance of local grape varieties that are totally unknown outside of Portugal, making virtually every bottle opened, an exploration of the senses.
Wine production began in Portugal during Roman times and has been a favorite beverage ever since; mostly known internationally only for its delicious Port wines, Portugal is in fact, the seventh largest producer of wine in the world and can still be found at very affordable prices all over the Alentejo region; in restaurants, it is possible to order excellent local house wines (vinho da casa) for $8.00 a bottle, or less!
Since joining the European Union in 1986, Portugal has been gradually improving the overall quality of its wine production having suffered somewhat under the central rule of the Salazar dictatorship and subsequent revolution in the mid-seventies.
But perhaps, of all the Portuguese producing areas, it is the Alentejo wines that have made the biggest leap in quality over recent years, having attracted investment from big names such as the Rothschilds from Bordeaux, as well as many prominent Portuguese investors. Nevertheless, these wines are still difficult to find in the US, overlooked for something more familiar, though perhaps, less adventurous, and I suspect this is more to do with lack of effective marketing, allied with quite unique grape varieties that are difficult for us English speakers to pronounce.
But, it is precisely this that makes the wines of Alentejo so interesting for me, and why we at DuVine are so keen to share them with you. Aside from their generally very inexpensive nature, one of their main attractions is that producers have, in the main, omitted to jump on the bandwagon of familiarity and have decided to stay faithful to their traditional local grape varieties, little, or never, seen in the Americas. So, if you're tiring of Cab, Merlot and Malbec or are Sauvignon and Chardonnay'd out, it is possibly time to discover new tastes and flavors.
It is estimated that Portugal has over 300 different grape varieties, most of which, are unique to the country. In the Alentejo, red grape varieties include Trincadeira, Aragonés, Perequita, Alicante Bouschet, Grand-Noir and Touriga Nacional; Amongst the whites, Roupeiro, Rabo de Ovelha, FernÃ£o Pires, Arinto, Perrum and Antão Vaz. Either blended or mono-varietal, these wines offer a whole new plethora of flavors and textures to explore at generally, very affordable prices; in fact, some of the very best can be purchased for under 15 euro, and as little as 3 euro a bottle at the wineries.
During our trip to the Alentejo, we will have the opportunity to visit several local wineries and try countless numbers of bottles while dining in cozy little restaurants or enjoying a delightful open-air picnic, and we hope you'll enjoy discovering these little gems as much as we enjoy showing them to you.