Once Ribatejo, now Tejo. This is another Portuguese wine region that suffered massive alterations to its production and as a result, got better wines and a different name. On a personal note, I must say that I disagree with the current name since Ribatejo is the name of this geographic region, and even the Denomination of Origin label carries the name Ribatejo. I am sure that some Portuguese wine experts would agree.
Ribatejo is famous for its marshland, in Portuguese “lezíria ribatejana”, that can be found along the River Tagus, the main feature of this region. It is also the river that influences both the climate and the soil in this region. Generally speaking, Ribatejo has a Mediterranean climate, the presence of the river will soften the climate which is usually mild throughout the year. The river also influences the soil, right on its banks there are the famous marshlands, on the right side there’s moorland whilst on the left, you will find heath. The region is divided into 6 sub-regions: Tomar, Santarém, Chamusca, Cartaxo, Almeirim and Coruche. The region suffered massive transformation in the last 15 years. Wine production was moved to inland areas, which lowered its production. However, the quality improved significantly.
The legislation in Ribatejo is a bit relaxed and that allowed the introduction of several international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Chardonnay. But Ribatejo also produced great native varieties. The most common white varieties are Arinto, Rabo de Ovelha and Fernão Pires which is the more predominant in the region. The reds are usually produced with Alfroncheiro, Aragonez, Baga, Castelão, Trincadeira and the famous Touriga Nacional.
After a major restructuring Ribatejo, now known as Tejo, started producing fewer wines but the quality improved significantly. Due to permissive legislation, producers can experiment with their grapes. Grapes that are not originally admitted in the Denomination of Origin stamp are permitted in Ribatejo. Regardless of having the DOC stamp or not, the wines from this region have similar characteristics. The whites are fruity with tropical and floral aromas and the reds are young, aromatic and present very soft tannins. Together with the amazing gastronomy of this region are certainly a great reason to visit Ribatejo.