The Alentejo wine region, located in the south-central and southern parts of Portugal, is a relatively hot and dry region that is best known for its rich, easy-drinking red wines. The Alentejo region is divided into 8 different sub-zones, including Evora, Borba, Moura, Redondo and Portalegre.
Geographically, the most distinctive feature of Alentejo is the Tejo River, which bisects Portugal into two parts. Alentejo is located south of the Tejo, and, in fact, the name of the region itself makes mention of this. Alentejo literally means “beyond the Tejo.” Each of the 8 different sub-zones can vary considerably in terms of climate and topography. The center is hot and dry, but other sub-zones are more moderate.
In terms of red grape varietals, the most popular include Aragonez (Tempranillo), Castelao and Trincadeira. Sometimes, these are combined in unique ways to create rich, jam-like wines evocative of berries. There are also some international varietals – such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon – that are now being grown in Alentejo.
The region itself, especially compared to Portugal’s famous Atlantic coastline cities, is very sparsely populated. The largest cities in Alentejo are not household names: Evora, Beja, Serpa, Elvas and Portalegre. To the east of Alentejo is the famous Andalucia wine region of Spain.
The region is known as much for its famous cork production as its wine production. In fact, until recently, the red wines of Alentejo were mostly known as “value reds” or “best value Old World wines.” That reputation has begun to change in recent years, however, as Alentejo producers now focus on creating red wines that can challenge any from Spain, Italy or France.