Aplanta Red Blend 2019
Dark garnet tinged purple. On the nose, lush blueberry, plum and red cherry aromas, overlaid with slate mineral. On the palate, a core of red cherry and blueberry fruit is wrapped with hints of fresh tobacco, black pepper and spice. Plush and refreshing all at once.
Blend: 70% Aragonez, 30% Alicante Bouschet
Alentejo, in the south of Portugal, is one of the more arid growing areas in Western Europe. The Mourao sub-region has no highways or airports, and its people were determined to continue a rustic, agrarian existence until the the finalization of the Alqueva Dam in 2004. A huge and controversial project, the "Barragem de Alqueva" is today the biggest artificial lake in Europe, and is a reservoir and irrigation source for a large area of the Alentejo. When the reservoir was planned the government faced a difficult decision. The old village of Aldeia da Luz (Village of Light) was below the proposed water-line of the planned reservoir, but the benefits that the project would bring were such that the village could not be spared. Would they relocate people to the nearest town? Perhaps disperse the 300-odd residents around the local villages? After consultation with the villagers the authorities undertook what is considered to be a unique resettlement plan: they rebuilt Luz a couple of kilometres away on higher ground. This relocation included planting both a 200 hectare olive grove and a 83 hectare vineyard that today belong to and are farmed by the 74 permanent denizens of the village. It is from here that the fruit for Aplanta comes, showcasing the lush, warm flavors and easy-going style of Alentejo reds.
Responsible for a majority of Portugal’s fine wine production—and over half of the world’s cork production—Alentejo represents a major force in Portugal’s wine industry. This southern Portugese region is characterized by stretches of rolling plains and vineyards dotted with majestic cork oaks. Access to land enables the farmers of Alentejo to produce wines in great economies of scale, without compromising quality, compared to those regions to the north. The region of Alentejo indeed covers a third of the country.
Its classified (DOP) wines must come from one of eight subregions, where elevations are a bit higher, air cooler and less fertile soils are perfect for vines. The optimal regions are Portalegre, Borba, Redondo, Reguengos de Monsaraz, Granja-Amareleja, Vidigueira, Evora and Moura. Alentejo is not without the conveniences of modern winemaking as well. Irrigation supplements low rainfall and temperature control in the winery assures high quality wines.
The potential of the area has attracted many producers and its wine production continues to grow. Alentejo’s charming, fruit-forward wines have naturally led to local and global popularity.
White wines tend to be blends of Antão Vaz, Roupeiro and Arinto. However, in growing proportions, the white grapes Verdelho, Alvarinho and Viognier have been enjoying success. But red varieties actually exceed whites in Alentejo. Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and Castelão grapes blend well together and are responsible for most of the Alentejo reds.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended red wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged resulting in a wide variety of red wine styles. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a red wine blend variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.
How to Serve Red Wine
A common piece of advice is to serve red wine at “room temperature,” but this suggestion is imprecise. After all, room temperature in January is likely to be quite different than in August, even considering the possible effect of central heating and air conditioning systems. The proper temperature to aim for is 55° F to 60° F for lighter-bodied reds and 60° F to 65° F for fuller-bodied wines.
How Long Does Red Wine Last?
Once opened and re-corked, a bottle stored in a cool, dark environment (like your fridge) will stay fresh and nicely drinkable for a day or two. There are products available that can extend that period by a couple of days. As for unopened bottles, optimal storage means keeping them on their sides in a moderately humid environment at about 57° F. Red wines stored in this manner will stay good – and possibly improve – for anywhere from one year to multiple decades. Assessing how long to hold on to a bottle is a complicated science. If you are planning long-term storage of your reds, seek the advice of a wine professional.