Cartuxa Pera Manca Red 2013
Historic Cartuxa Monastery was built for the Carthusian Order between 1587 and 1598 by Archbishop Teotonio of the House of Bragança. Kings of the Bragança dynasty later financed embellishments for the church: in the 17th century Pedro II added a marble portico and facade to its exterior, and in the 18th century João V added a retable altar gilded in gold leaf. For this reason the church was declared a national monument in 1910. The monastery is close to Évora, where the sound of its bell, especially when it tolls at midnight, forms part of the fabric of this World Heritage museum-city.
Today, the Cartuxa de Santa Maria Scala Coeli is regarded by locals as one of Evora’s artistic and spiritual treasures. In 1834, revolutionary forces expelled the Carthusians, along with all other religious orders. The State took ownership of the monastery and used it as part of the city’s School of Agriculture, where the monumental church was turned into a grain store. However, it was rescued in 1871 when the Eugenio de Almeida family acquired the ruins. In the mid-20th century the then heir, Vasco Maria, Earl of Vil’alva, decided to restore the monastery and return it to the Order of Saint Bruno. In 1960 the Carthusian Monks returned to the monastery at the invitation of the Foundation’s creator, who completely rebuilt and restored the building. The Convento de Santa Maria Scala Coeli or Cartuxa de Évora, property of the da Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, is a place of prayer of contemplation, the only presence of Carthusian Monks in Portugal. From 1960 the Carthusian life was reborn and revived at Santa Maria Scala Coeli, open to all who wished to embrace meditation and prayer. The Monastery is neighbor to the Cartuxa Winery, with whom it shares a bucolic atmosphere inviting serenity and retreat.
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.