Hot, sunny, and dry throughout most of its landscape, Alentejo is known for bold, big wines, often with high alcohol content and in-your-face fruit flavors. It's also a big region and covers the most land in the southern part of the country. Surprisingly, only a small percent of the land in Alentejo is planted with grapes.
There is a mountainous area around the town of Portalegre, and a coastal strip as well, but the vast majority of Alentejo wines are grown on undulating land punctuated with ancient olive trees and cork oaks. The soils alternate between shale, clay, marble, granite and limestone, an unusual diversity. The climate is clearly Mediterranean, hot and dry, with a strong continental influence. Many producers are working to produce more elegant and fresh wines, but it is not easy in this region – you have to plant carefully and harvest precisely.
Favorite white varietals include Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro, as well as the lesser known Diagalves, Manteúdo, Perrum and Rabo de Ovelha. In the red category, Alfrocheiro, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Castelão and Trincadeira are grown, in addition to the typically undervalued Moreto, Tinta Caiada and Tinta Grossa.