A glass filled with red wine in front of green hills and blue sky

If there’s no shortage of people saying that the Alentejo is the new Tuscany, why not make a wine in Campo Maior from the most typical grape variety of this Italian region? That’s what Adega Mayor tried in 2018.

In addition to the vineyards it owns, Adega Mayor hires out around 80 hectares of vines each year to winegrowers in the region. One of these vineyards was planted with the Sangiovese variety, which is responsible for some of Italy’s most famous wines, especially from the Tuscany region, such as Chianti, Brunello (and Rosso) di Montalcino, among others.

“It was a curiosity of the winemaker, but the grapes ended up going into rosé or blends,” explains Carlos Rodrigues, Adega Mayor’s winemaker, who saw an opportunity to make a different wine. “We decided to see what the grape variety would give us: we picked it early, so that it would have a low alcohol content, and we did a Chianti-style vinification, with little extraction, without macerating too much. We only took advantage of the tannins that come out naturally, to achieve delicacy.”

The wine was finished in an oak vat with a capacity of 5000 liters. “After 12 or 13 months we realized that we had something different there,” Carlos recalls. And what was that? A wine that combines the best of both worlds. It’s fresh and delicate like a Sangiovese, but at the same time, “it retains the rustic and rough character that Alentejo wines have”, Carlos Rodrigues guarantees.

This versatility extends to pairing: “Since it’s an Italian grape variety, we tend to go for pasta and risotto. But if you try it with a piece of matured meat or an oven-baked dish, it has certain, incisive tannins that cleanse the whole mouth. It manages to stand up to both worlds.”

So, following the advice of those in the know, we’ve selected three recipes with one foot in Italy and the other in the Alentejo, which are excellent company for this Sangiovese (click on the image).

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