Cartuxa: Our First Wine Estate in the Alentejo Region of Portugal

Alentejo: Evora, Portugal
“Cartuxa: The Charitable Wine Company”

Herdade Cartuxa in Evora, Alentejo
As we drove south from the Douro Valley we made our way on a highway that wound through the hilly northern part of Portugal to lower rolling and golden yellow hills in Alentejo.  We stopped half way for lunch and a brief tourist stop in Fatima to see the enormous site the Roman Catholic Church has built to recognize one of the few places the Virgin Mary has shown herself.  We had a fantastic lunch at Tia Alice where we had a fantastic Acorda meal that is the rustic traditional country dish of this region.  Tia Alice is the best restaurant in that region and the food backed that up.

Tia Alice in Fatima, a great restaurant to savor the regional cuisine
The main circle in Fatima where a monument dedicted to the children that saw the Virgin Mary
Pope John Paul II brass statue in Fatima

As we started to enter the outskirts of the Alentejo region, we started to see the crop the region is most famous for.  No, they were not grape vines but cork trees in many different stages of harvest.  Some were ordinary looking trees, many others were in different color ranges of red and brown, they look rust colored after the cork is peeled away and harvested.

Cork trees in the Alentejo
L’and, our home while in the Alentejo

Our headquarters in the Alentejo was at the great hotel L’And that was a well appointed hotel with fantastic amenities a short drive west of the historical city of Evora: an excellent restaurant, infinity pool, huge rooms, their own wine production, spa and our favorite part was the retractable skylight over the bed.  The skylight could be retracted to where it was just a screen and you could see all of the starts at night as you nodded off to never never land.

Skylight over your bed?  Yes please! 
Welcome to Cartuxa! 
Inside the old Herdade where wine is no longer made but some of the wines age here in tank.

On our first full day in Alentejo we had 2 appointments, with the first one at Cartuxa near Evora.  We watched a video about the winery, its rich history and its impressive charity work for the poor children within Portugal.  The winery itself was in a labrinth built in stages over time as separate parts of the structures are of varying styles and the current materials from the time they were created.  

Angela showing us how to use the aroma stations.

A unique part of the tour took us to an aroma station where the 4 most prominent grapes in Alentejo where described and the aroma simulated with the typical scents of the wines.  I thought this was a great way for people, novice or experienced, to better understand the grapes and what they offer in flavor and aroma.

As we concluded the tour, we headed into the tasting room to sample the wines.  We had 3 different olive oils 4 wines to waiting for us to try.  Our guide Angela Fernandes was an excellent guide telling us the stories of the estate and the production methods to make these fantastic quality wines.

Angela and I concluding the olive oil and wine tasting.

The three olive oils were the EA label to which the basic introductory wines also are labeled as EA.  The Cartuxa label was a smooth and fruity olive oil with a butter texture, while the Alamos was spicy, peppery, floral and fruity with a vibrant green color.

Here are our tasting notes from the wines:

Floral de Evora Branco Colheita 2010
Grape variety: Assario
Fresh lemons, pineapple, tropical with good acids, some minerality, super mid palate full of nice texture, a clean and mineral driven finish
Steel fermentation and only on the yeasts, the battonage adds a nice medium bodied texture to what would be a steely, leaner feeling wine if not for the sur lie.

EA Reserva Tinto 2011
Half of this wine sees 4-6 months of oak aging; 2/3 new French oak the remaining 1/3 are neutral oak barrels
Grape varieties:  Aragones, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet
Fresh and bright red fruits, supple tannin, decent acidity

Cartuxa Tinto Evora Colheita 2010
Grape varieties: Alicante Bouschet, Trincadera, Aragonez (aka Tempranillo)
Elegant, but spicy red fruits like raspberry and black cherry; very dusty medium grain tannin, mocha and subtle spice too.  A long and fresh finish, very nice wine.
Cold soak maceration, 1/2 the wine is aged in large 5k tanks for 12 months while the other 1/2 is aged in new French oak barrels for 12 months.

A biento!

The sun setting on another beautiful Portugal day!



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