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Evora is a Portuguese wine region centred on the town of the same name in the Alentejo region. The region was initially a separate Regulated Provenance Indication (IPR) region, but in 2003, it became one of the eight sub-regions of the Alentejo Denomination of Origin, which has a higher status of Controlled Denomination of Origin (DOC). Its name is indicated along with that of Alentejo, as Alentejo-Évora. DOC white wines are distinguished by being slightly acidic and by their aroma of tropical fruits. The red wines have body and smell of wild and red fruits, rich in tannins.
Experts appreciate the quality of Alentejo-Évora wines for their smoothness accompanied by an intense aroma that invites to drink.
In Roman times, the first vineyards in this area were born and at the same time the first tools were created for the collection and fermentation of the must and storage of the wine, made of terracotta and wood.
When Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, the need for wine to celebrate the Eucharist helped to stimulate vine cultivation and wine production. Later, the Arab occupation put wine producers in trouble with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages by the Muslim religion.
According to historical testimonies, viticulture has had highs and lows. In the 17th century, more importance was given to Douro wines in the strategy of placing Portugal on the map of countries with the best wines in the world. However, the first wineries appeared in Evora at the end of the 1800s, overcoming the difficulties of the numerous economic crises. After the Second World War, Portugal's needs were more to increase cereal production than to boost the winemaking industry. Gradually the cultivation of vines was reduced each year to become a domestic activity, which was confined to private homes for own consumption. Fortunately, the Junta Nacional do Vinho appealed for the recovery of viticulture and launched a reactivation plan that produced good results. At the end of the decade of the 70s, the creation of several institutions was initiated with the objective of further improving the quality of production and promoting the culture of the vineyard through the different soils of the region. Within this framework, associations, cooperatives and interest groups arose that initiated a particular roadmap whose first objective was the recovery of wine production, progress and the reactivation of the local economy.
The Alentejo-Évora region is located in the south of Portugal, where the large number of sunny days and the temperature allow the grapes to ripen perfectly. The climate is markedly Mediterranean, although with sectors of continental microclimate. The average temperatures during the year are around 16°C but there are big thermal differences, with cold winters and quite hot and dry summers. Average annual rainfall varies between 500 and 800 millilitres. This is decisive for wines in an area that, despite being essentially flat, suffers from the influence of the Sierra de São Mamede. As for the soils, which are not very fertile, they present quite different characteristics throughout the region, which the various producers take advantage of to plant different grape chestnuts, many of which are autochthonous and mature in optimum conditions.
The most important white grapes are:
- Roupeiro.* Antão Vaz.* Arinto.
Among the red varieties, they stand out:
- Trincadeira.* Aragonese.* Castelão (Periquita).* Alicante Bouschet.
However, production is not limited to that provided for in the DOC legislation, which orders sub-regions and specific varieties. There are producers who choose to continue with the traditions and produce regional wine, which allows grape varieties such as Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Chardonnay.
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The driving force behind Alentejo-Evora wines lies in the perfect blend of tradition and technological modernisation. The financial support of the European Union contributed to this, as did the drive and tenacity of the cooperative wineries. But what has taken a qualitative leap has been the design of a wine tasting route called Rota dos Vinhos do Alentejo that passes through the eight regions and has been one of the most successful transformations that has significantly reactivated the region. Evora is the perfect place to learn even more about the wines of the terroir. Enotourism has become a pillar of commercial prosperity, due to the quality of its products and the proverbial kindness of the Portuguese people.
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