Red berries and soft tannin balance on a palate ideal for a variety of occasions: barbeque, picnics, or on its own.
Located in the Lower Alentejo region in the southern half of Portugal, between Vidigueira and Cuba, lies the estate of Herdade do Rocim on 100 hectares, 60 of which are under vine. Alentejo is sparsely populated and, in contrast to the rest of Portugal, has many large estates. The climate is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. Having fairly reliable weather combined with the large plots of available land equates to quality at an affordable price. Wheat is the most important crop grown here, but olive trees, cork trees and vineyards are all important agriculture here as well. Wines from Alentejo are becoming popular as consumers realize the great opportunities available here, and quality is improving exponentially. It is thought to be the new world inside the old world, with highly professional wineries using a scientific approach while respecting the terroir.
The Rocim estate was purchased in 2000 by Movicortes group, which is a Portuguese company that specializes in agricultural machinery, but has its roots in farming and vineyards. Catarina Vieira, daughter of the late Jose Ribeiro Vieira, the founder of the Movicortes group, has been coordinating the development of the estate. Catarina believes that Alentejo has the unique conditions required to produce world-class wines. With respect for the terrior and the natural resources there, they produce a freshness and minerality in the whites and an elegance and complexity in the reds.
In school, Catarina studied Agronomy in Italy and Oenology in Portugal. Her love for nature was instilled in her from a young age. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was a wine producer and merchant at Cortes, and her grandfather on her father’s side was in agriculture and also owned several vineyards in Alentejo. Since purchasing, they have invested greatly in the land by completely regenerating the vineyards and building a new state of the art winery. With a complete overhaul of the vineyards, they were able to plant higher-quality varietals, including international grapes such as Syrah and Cabernet, as well as the indigenous and local varietals.
After the Viera family took over the winery, they made a conscious decision to not only invest in the land and produce higher quality wine, but to also invest and make sustainable contributions to the development of the region. The winery was built with the future in mind, and they have continued to make improvements. Catarina and her team strive to create wines that are elegant, complex and strong. Inspired by her love and respect for her grandparents, her father and her family, her connection with nature, and a true and unwavering passion for wine, Catarina continues to push the limits in what was believed to be possible in Alentejo. She believes that Rocim has great potential in producing high quality wines with worldwide recognition, and has hopes of expanding the brand under the umbrella of quality for the region. She has created a project that gives value not only to Alentejo, but to Portugal as a whole.
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.