Michael Austin, of the Chicago Tribune, was in Portugal, in the Alentejo, to taste the region’s wines.

He expresses surprise that this small region also offers great wines, as demonstrated by the headline “Alentejo, the land where most corks come from, delivers great wine too”.

After a short and curious personal view of the region, Michael shares what he learned about the sub-regions, the grape varieties, the wines and the difference between a D.O.C. and a Vinho Regional Alentejano:

“Within the Alentejo region, where temperatures are high and rainfall is low, there are eight subregions: Borba, Evora, Granja-Amareleja, Moura, Portalegre, Redondo, Reguengos and Vidigueira. When a wine hails from one of these places and falls in line with the D.O.C. regulations, it is labeled “DOC Alentejo” no matter which subregion it calls home. That same wine is also allowed to carry the name of its subregion on its label.

Wines that have strayed from the D.O.C. winemaking rules — say, by using nonpermitted grapes or varying the allowed percentages — are labeled “Vinho Regional Alentejano,” which identifies them as wines from the larger region. This does not make them any less interesting, any less tasty or any less prestigious than wine stamped “D.O.C.” In fact, as we have seen in other countries, experimentation with blends can lead to more interesting wines.”

The tasting he did also surprised the journalist:

“A recent tasting stirred up several pleasant surprises. For a wine region that is not on the tip of everyone’s tongue, Alentejo delivers well-made, tasty offerings that are also on the lower end of the price scale. The red wines in this tasting clocked in at 14 percent alcohol or higher, so make sure to pace yourself and savor each sip.”

The tasting included our 4 Castas 2012 and Esporão Reserva 2013, whose tasting notes can be found at the end of the article.

Full article, here.