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When it comes to wine, Portugal is a land steeped in tradition. This long and narrow country is quite small; however, its great diversity of both climate and landscape provides a wealth of terroir perfect for its many traditional grape varieties.
Few of the standard European red wine grapes are grown here. Instead, you'll discover a variety of blends that include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Roriz (also known as Tempranillo in Spain), and Touriga Franca, as well as many other local grape varieties. In addition to being the foundation of Port — Portugal's famous fortified dessert wine — these grapes are used to produce outstanding, dry red table wines. Lezíria Tinto is a blend of 30% Castelao, 30% Aragonez, 30% Trincadeira Preta, and the remaining 10% is a field blend.
Red wine may rule the roost in Portugal; however, that doesn't imply there's an absence of exceptional white wine. The blistering hot and punishingly dry climate of Southern Portugal makes white wine production significantly more challenging than in the north. Southern wine-producing regions regularly see less than 20 inches of rainfall yearly, and summer temperatures often peak past 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it very difficult to make wine with freshness and balanced acidity. Fortunately, the coastal influence enjoyed in the Tejo region provides just the right climate for producing light, fresh, and zippy whites.
The most important and prolific white grape in the Tejo region is Fernão Pires, locally known as "Maria Gomes." It does particularly well in Tejo, producing highly aromatic whites with gorgeous tropical notes and soft minerality.
You'll find the Tejo wine region in central Portugal, just a quick drive from the capital city of Lisbon. For centuries, the Tejo River area has been deeply rooted in wine history and viticulture, playing an essential role in the region since the days of the Roman Empire.
Like most of the world's wine-producing areas, the influence of the region's river provides ideal conditions along its banks and surrounding plains for many local grape varieties. The gentle hills and sloping plains feature vineyards that are a mixture of clay and limestone soils with patches of schist — all encouraging the vines to dig deeper for nourishment and moisture.
Portugal's largest Cooperative
Located close to the right bank of the Tejo River, Adega de Almeirim is one of Portugal's largest cooperatives. With close to 200 members farming more than 2000 hectares of vines, this economy of scale allows for the super high production quality at bargain basement prices. Add António Ventura (Portuguese Oenologist of the year in 2006) to this recipe and you have an unbeatable combination.
Adega de Almeirim Lezíria Tinto is a smooth, medium-bodied red, typical of the Tejo. The bright, ruby color leads to a super fresh, velvety palate of dark red berries, black cherry, and gentle spice. This vibrant beam of dark red fruits leads through the palate to a wonderfully long and clean finish. This is definitely another perfect "Tuesday Night Turkey Burger Wine" that will pair with an endless array of foods – chicken, pork, game birds, soups, stews, and even pasta and pizza. Hammond and I regularly enjoy a glass with pasta in red sauce, home-cooked pizza, and of course, turkey burgers!
Adega de Almeirim Lezíria Branco is a fresh, crisp white made with 100% Fernão Pires. It's highly aromatic, with tons of tropical notes that jump out of the glass, leading to a citrusy palate of lemon, lime, and tangerine. Hints of aromatic herbs and mandarin orange also sneak into the lengthy, clean finish. Enjoy this with chicken, pork, and especially seafood.