One rare not-so-sunny day I traveled to the Mondrian Los Angeles in West Hollywood for a wine class and tasting on the Alentejo region of Portugal. My education on Portugal had been, up to this point, mostly spent on the obvious: Ports. However, as a wine writer, it’s always special to not only taste new wines but also have the additional benefit of learning. Here goes…

The Masterclass

The session will be presented by Evan Goldstein, MS, one of our industry’s most engaging and informed wine educators, in addition to being a leading expert on Portuguese wines. At the masterclass, Evan will offer a snapshot of the grapes, zones, sub-zones and characteristics that define Alentejo’s wines and collectively establish it as one of the most promising wine regions in southern Europe today. 

Takeaways for Wine 101ers

  • Three sides of Portugal is bordered by Spain.
  • It takes less than 90 minutes to travel by train from Lisbon to Alentejo.
  • Alentejo covers one third of Portugal.
  • Alentejo is the size of Belgium.
  • They’ve been making wine for over 4,000 years; the Roman settlers were the first to plant vineyards.
  • They are 9th in the world in vineyard acreage.
  • They are 11th in total worldwide production (USA is 4th)
  • Portuguese have the largest wine consumption in the world, 54 liters per person per year.
  • Nearly 80% of the wines are reds.
  • Blending is allowed and they “embrace everybody’s grapes” in Alentejo.


We had 12 wines to taste, starting with a sparkling Rose, two whites and the remainder were all reds. Evan wanted us to taste blind – this was lost on me as no one seemed that familiar with the grapes to begin with, we were there for a lesson, so not sure why the blind format – but it didn’t slow us down. In fact, by “halftime” we had been given less time to evaluate each wine.

Surrounded by fellow media and some members of the trade, we began our task. Number, year, producer and then the name of the wines are below. The many wine grape varietals are in parenthesis.

Rose: 2014 Herdade do Rocim, Espumante Brut Rose (Touriga Nacional)

Color: fresh peach.

Aroma: strawberry, cherry blossom, French toast, yeast.

Flavor: cherry, strawberry, tart, medium acid.

One: 2015 Rui Reguinga, Terrenus Reserva Branco (field blend of mixed whites)

Color: 24 carat gold.

Aroma: honey, kiwi, stone fruit.

Flavor: green apple, grapefruit, orange zest, medium acid.


Two: 2016 Luis Duarte, Rubrica Branco (Antao Val, Verdelho and Viognier)

Color: pale gold.

Aroma: green hay, barnyard, yeast and cheddar cheese.

Flavor: sweetened grapefruit, tinny, good mouth-coating viscosity, short finish.


Three: 2013 Susana Esteban, Procura Tinto (Field blend, Alicante Bouschet)

Color: purple.

Aroma: blue to black fruit, Cabernet-like, chocolate.

Flavor: dry, tannic, dried dark fruit.


Four: 2013 Joao Portugal Ramos, Vila Santa Reserva Tinto (Aragonez – aka Tempranillo – as well as Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet)

Color: dark garnet.

Aroma: red fruit, stems, cigar, wet bark, medicinal.

Flavor: red fruit and stems again.


Five: 2011 Mouchao, Tinto (Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira – commonly used in port wine reduction but I didn’t know that until I looked up the grape!)

Color: dark purple.

Aroma: sweet, port-like, blueberry, blackberry jam.

Flavor: drier in mouth than expected, same port-like qualities and cigar.


Six: 2014 Esporao, Reserva Tinto (Aragonez – aka Tempranillo –as well as Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet.)

Color: dark purple.

Aroma: cigar, dark chocolate, espresso, mint.

Flavor: mature fruit, balanced with spice, good dark fruit.

This was the first of my favorites in the tasting.


Seven: 2014 Cartuxa, Tinto (Aragonez – aka Tempranillo – as well as Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira.)

Color: purple.

Aroma: pungent red to blue fruit – a lot, and a nice amount of spice.

Flavor: black fruit, balanced, spice milder.

This was the second of my favorites.


Eight: 2012 Dona Maria, Grande Reserva Tinto (Alicante Bouschet, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Touriga Nacional)

Color: dark purple.

Aroma: tart nose of blueberry, dark cherry and white pepper.

Flavor: red fruit, some spice, tannic.


Nine: 2015 Cooperativa Granja Amaraleja, Moreto Pe-Franco Tinto (100% Moreto - in amphora!)

Color: dark garnet.

Aroma: sweet, stewed fruits, plump raisings, milk chocolate, dark cherry.

Flavor: Nice big, bold and dark fruit, good spice.

My third favorite in the tasting. Been a long time since I had a clay pot, aka amphora, wine.


Ten: 2015 Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, Malhadinha Tinto (Alicante Bouschet, Syrah, Tinta Miuda and Touriga Nacional.)

Color: dark garnet.

Aroma: fresh bowl of cut red fruit, juicy darker fruits, mint, earth.

Flavor: deep, layered, balanced fruit, spice and tannins.

Also a favorite for me.


Eleven: 2013 Cortes de Cima, Tinto (Aragonez – aka Tempranillo – as well as Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Petit Verdot.

Color: dark red.

Aroma: red to blue fruit, nicely balanced.

Flavor: heavy red fruit, deep, flavors well integrated.


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Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com