"Wine-growing region - Ribatejo" Portugal Local Custom Tip by a2lopes

Portugal Local Customs: 175 reviews and 233 photos

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The Ribatejo wine region, with 6 sub-regions, is to the east and inland from the Estremadura district covering to the north of the municipality of Tomar and then down to the district of the Alentejo. Wines from this whole region have been well known since the 12th C. as Santarém was capital of the kingdom for quite some time. Some good red wines can be found from this region due to its alluvial soil and temperate climate. The wines are tannic when young but after 5 years they become full-bodied and fruity with a slight spicy flavor.

The vineyards of Azambuja and Cartaxo (like many other further down) are planted in two different types of soil. The first is the flood plains of the River Tejo and the second a 200 meter high calcareous clay soil. The red wine from the lower vineyards is ruby-colored, firm and fruity, whilst the higher vineyards produce a deeper color, rich and smooth wine. The white from the lower part is pale and fruity, whilst the higher part produces a wine that is dry and smooth. Quinta Vale de Fornos produces some of the best wines from the region for my taste.
South of Cartaxo and just in front of Vila Franca de Xira stands the Lezíria (Benavente county), the flooded area of the Tejo plains, where you can find a good wine - Companhia das Lezírias- produced in a lovely place to visit with horses to sell and several animals on the wild.

Santarém and Rio Maior areas produce red wines deep in color, full-bodied and well balanced. The white wine is straw-colored and palatable. The label to try is Cabeça de Toiro or Head of the Bull, as this is the most typical bullfighting area in the country.
Almeirim on the flood fertile plain of the River Tejo, produces well-balanced white wines with fruity aromas but best consumed early. One of the best productions is granted by the Quinta da Alorna (which you can visit on the way to Almeirim), and another good one is Fernão Pires
The red wines from Tomar are light in color and body, with some acidity. The white wines have a slight green tinge and a fruity crisp flavor. The best labels for my taste are Convento de Tomar and Solar dos Loendros.

You have much to see besides the Rota dos Vinhos (wine route) as Santarém is the capital of the Gothic in Portugal with beautiful monuments; definitely a great place to spend some time. The same happens with Tomar steeped in history once home of the Order of Knights Templar. The neighboring town of Ferreira do Zêzere shares some links with history and deserves a visit too. The food is tasty and you have from plenty of freshwater fish like carp (carpa) or shad (sável). But this is a land of meat, actually this is the land of bulls and cows, so you will find many dishes made of beef, but you also will find the tasty sucking lamb (borrego), either stewed (ensopado) or marinated in spices and then baked, and the most common pork meat in all the ways you can imagine -from fried minced pork with herbs and spices, to grilled, to smoked ham (presunto) and a broad variety of smoked pork sausages like paio, salpicão, or chouriço.

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  • Written Apr 26, 2009
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