The wines of Herdade do Rocim in Portugal’s Alentejo

mapThe Herdade do Rocim is a Portuguese estate in the Alentejo, Portugal’s biggest wine region, which farms around 60 hectares of vines. The estate is owned by Terralis Lda, a Portuguese company that specialises in agricultural machinery, but which has its roots in farming and vineyards. Since buying Herdade do Rocim in 2000 they have set in place an extremely ambitious investment, totally regenerating the vineyards and building a new state of the art winery. Initially, the Herdade had 20 hectares of old vineyards, half planted to Aragonez and Trincadeira for red wines and half to white varieties, mainly Antão Vaz. In 2001 13 hectares of Syrah, Aragonez and Cabernet Sauvignon were added, with much more attention to matching grape to site than would have been paid in the past. The French varieties were planted in sandy soils, whilst the Aragonez was planted on more suitable clay. Three years later, 17 hectares of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet were added and, most recently, around seven hectares more, this time devoted to white grape varieties, mainly Antão Vaz, Arinto and Alvarinho.

At the top of the Rocim tree, the Grande Rocim is a terrific, all Alicante Bouschet red which was chosen my Sarah Ahmed as one of her ’50 Great Portuguese Wines’ this year. Just below that is a reserve range of wines from specially selected parcels of grapes, called ‘Olho de Mocho’. Finally from the Alentejo estate, the Herdade Rocim range is the entry level. Also tasted here is a fascinating wine from vineyards planted in Lisboa, the region formerly known as Estremadura, another super-premium red under the Vale da Mata brand name. This is an estate to watch. At time of writing there are no UK retail stockists, but shows a number of international stockists who may ship overseas.

white wines

Herdade Rocim, Branco 2009, Vinho Regional Alentejano
A blend of Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro. There’s an enticing herb quality on the nose of this wine, of soft leafy green herbs melding into a nutty, almond and Cox’s Pippin fruit quality that is gently smoky and attractive. On the palate there’s a rush of sweet fruit that skips across the tongue: ripe apple and melon, but bright and light with citrus and that herbal streak following through. This is a fresh and light-bodied wine, pithy lemon acidity and a subtle spiciness pushing through. Distinctive and delicious. 88/100. Olho de Mocho Branco Reserva 2009, Vinho Regional Alentejano
Made from Antão Vaz, that nutty, herby quality of the regular 2009 branco is followed through here, backed up by a little barrel influence with vanilla and Brazil nut tones beneath the apple fruit. On the palate this has a slightly more savoury character, and a degree more weight and texture too, with concentration of those citrus and orchard fruit flavours backed up by that lightly buttery, nutty depth. This has more weight and concentration than the branco, and the spiciness lingers, but it perhaps doesn’t quite push through with as much personality. Still intriguing and delicious. 88/100.

red wines

Herdade Rocim, Tinto 2007, Vinho Regional Alentejano
A blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira and Alicante Bouschet. Attractively open and inviting nose, with sweet cherry and dusty black fruit notes and a nicely smoky, meaty intensity too. On the palate this is dry and savoury, with a real bite of cherry and plum skin freshness and grip, the core of berry fruit staying sweet and pure, but swept up in tannins and acidity, spice and oaky flavours into a chewy, long finish. 88/100.

Olho de Mocho, Tinto Reserva 2008, Vinho Regional Alentejano
A blend of Syrah with Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet. Huge colour here, a vibrant purple/black with equally expressive nose: the Sandalwood and Patchouli spice of French oak is powerful, but then a deep, glossy black fruit with a certain fat, weight and a graphite minerality. In the mouth this is a powerful, intense wine, the depth of plum and blackcurrant fruit sits at the core, with a wrapping of that spicy, exotic oak giving tobacco and coffee flavours, and a nicely edgy grip of fresh, tangy cherry skin acidity and tight, sinewy tannins propelling the wine to a decisive finish. 92/100.

Vale da Mata, Tinto Reserva 2007, Vinho Regional Lisboa
A blend of Aragonez, Syrah and Touriga Nacional in this wine from Rocim’s vineyards in the Alta Estremadura close to Lisbon. The enormous, heavyweight bottle show intent. The nose is lovely, quite discreet despite a sheen of tight-grained, cedary oak, with a cool, graphite minerality and refined black cherry fruit. The palate has a lovely sense of creamy density, with a savoury, sinewy texture adding lots of chewy grip, the tannins supple and chalky, but decisive and the acidity giving a keen edge. In the finish that mineral, smoky character reasserts, in a large-scaled but intriguing and composed wine. 93/100.

Grande Rocim, Tinto Reserva 2007, Alentejano DOC
Made from 100% Alicante Bouschet, this is the top red wine from Rocim, and an expression of their belief in this red-fleshed grape variety. This pours a luscious, deep crimson and has a beautifully refined nose. The influence of very high quality, fragrant and exotically spiced French oak is there, but there’s a lovely floral lift too and sense of red fruited, almost rose-hip intensity but lightness. On the palate this is dry, savoury and balanced despite its hefty alcohol, with chocolaty undertones to crisp, beautifully focused fruit. 93/100.

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