2018 Casa Relvas Sul Red Blend

The label on this bottle is made of cork, because it comes directly from the Portuguese region of Alentejo which has cork forests that are known for their biodiversity and ecological balance. While this family-owned winery works within the region’s increasingly rigorous sustainability requirements, they still produce a very traditional and well-priced red wine known simply as their “Red Blend.” For 30% of the blend they rely on alicante bouschet, which is becoming the signature grape of the Alentejo wine region. The fruit in the wine tastes very ripe, even overripe with dark juicy, toasted tarry tones that suggest the edges of a jam pot. There is moderate acidity and tannin in this wine. Simple and easy to drink.

SUSTAINABILITY STATEMENT: Integrated management of cork forests, olive groves and vineyards, also a member of the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program. Starting in 2015 when many farmers had never heard of water metering, in the past five years the Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program has now enrolled 62% of the grape growers in this region in water management plans, and the number continues to grow. This winery uses sheep to control the weeds in the vineyards during the vines’ dormant period.

WHO: Casa Relvas Sul [formerly Herdade de São]

WHAT: 50% aragonez, 30% alicante bouschet, 15% trincadeira, 5% cabernet sauvignon

WHERE: Alentejo, Portugal

HOW MUCH: $12 (red blend)