Well-regarded US magazine Wine Enthusiast publishes its annual pick for the best wine travel destinations in their February issue. Here the most exciting European and international terroirs are selected, and exciting newcomers are introduced – prominent among them this year is the region Alentejo, located in southern Portugal.
A voyage of discovery
Casting a more detailed glance on this stretch of land, it is easy to instantly share this enthusiasm: not only does the rustic charm and relaxed pace of the Alentejo inspire wanderlust, the natural diversity of the region provides additional inspiration to pack the bags and set off on a pleasurable voyage of discovery under the Mediterranean sun. Wine Enthusiast journalist Roger Voss explains the unique nature of the place: ”The Alentejo offers something for everyone – wonderful vistas with miles of vineyards and cork oak groves that line the roads leading to historic cities. Plus there is a wealth of widely diversified pubs, restaurants and hotels.”
Pleasure and playtime under the Portuguese sun
The gustatory delights begin in the numerous little bars, called tascas. Alongside a fullbodied glass of red wine, the visitor will enjoy delicious little bites known as petiscos, which can be compared to the tapas of neighbouring Spain. One regional dish that simply must be tried is the Carne de Porco á Alentejana, a stew made from mussels, tender pork and potatoes, heartily seasoned with fresh coriander. A wonderful combination, one that is guaranteed to remain in the diner’s memory. And if one wants not to miss out on this treat while remaining at home, well, the Alentejo is happy to pass along the recipe here, with their warmest regards.
In addition to this, numerous olive oil and wine producers invite visitors to sample delicious products directly in the place where they are produced – curious and enthusiastic visitors are always welcome in the Alentejo. And beyond this, the region is proud to offer active friends of the outdoors many opportunities for recreation: a detailed selection of bicycle and hiking tours, bird-watching excursions – and even cooking classes – can be found here.
Wine tourism at the highest level
Hospitality is written large in the Altentejo. For this reason, most wine producers operate their own tasting rooms and shops, where guests can directly purchase the treasures offered by the estates. Visitors are offered a warm welcome in the adjoining small bars and marvellous restaurants as well. A listing of estates offering wine tourism activities is found here.
Wine connoisseurs typically associate the Alentejo with well-balanced cuvées; moreover, international grape varieties like Syrah, Cabernet and Viognier dominated the regional spectrum ten years ago… But today, growers have once more discovered the great potential of their indigenous grape varieties, and the number of superb monovarietal wines made from them is steadily growing. Red wines bear sonorous names like Alfrocheiro, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Castelao, Touriga Nacional or Trincadeira, while white varieties like Antao Vaz, Arinto, Fernao Pires, Perrum and Roupeiro round out the palette in top-notch fashion. These native grapes enjoy the advantage of being perfectly suited to the local climate and soils, and thus reveal their full bounty and beauty.
Unforgettable nights under the stars
All over the Alentejo, many nights unfold under a pitch-black and starry-clear sky. Thanks to the minimal air pollution in the region, the Alentejo is characterised as a ‘dark sky region’, and a ‘starlight destination’. For this reason, every July many guests come to attend the popular Dark Sky Party (more information at www.darkskyalqueva.com) to spend an unforgettable night dancing under the glittering starry heavens.
Accommodations in harmony with nature
Along with its luxury gourmet hotels, the Alentejo offers a multitude of small pensions and sustainably built boutique hotels, which are operated entirely in harmony with nature. If one wishes to travel off the beaten track and enjoy their relaxation under the impressive starry sky, the best thing to do would be to reserve rooms in one of the rustic whitewashed country cottages on the Alentejo coast, or in the picturesque back country. Extensive information about hotels and accommodations can be found here. And incidentally, the preferred times to visit the Alentejo are spring and autumn, since the summertime temperatures are not shy about topping 40°C.
Tips, reference material and further information
Read the complete Alentejo article from Wine Enthusiast:
General information about the wine region Alentejo is available at:
www.tasting-mediterranean.com and www.vinhosdoalentejo.pt
If you have an editorial interest in the Alentejo, please contact Caroline Derler at:
email@example.com or +43 369 79 90 14