The Ribatejo can be considered, for its location, the heart of Portugal. Crossed by the best roads and railways, it is in this region that Portugal is from north to south, with the Tagus River as a union link.
The beauty of the landscape combines the monumental and architectural heritage and traditions of the Ribatejo, where bull, horse, campino and Fandango are a must. All this accompanied by its delicious gastronomy and wines of excellence.
The course of time left in this region a remarkable trail of medieval castles, manor houses, churches, chapels, convents, sanctuaries that allow a meeting marked with the representation of the world of the time. And at the bottom of this story, the vestiges of the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Iron Age reveal the beginning of the human adventure, its initial gestures and the challenge of survival, celebrations of moments that the history maintained and the future wants to preserve in the many museums of the Region. And we have a lot to say, between times and places that shape the Portuguese soul.
The lezíria corresponds to the plain flooded by the river Tagus, of rich lands. It was there that the Portuguese bullfights originated and where still today there are typical peasant figures. The district, on the right bank of the Tagus, has a more pronounced relief and mixed soils, where many olive trees coexist harmoniously with the vine, wheat and corn. The “heath” extends along the left bank of the Tagus, where the soil is poorer and the vineyard needs to divide the existing resources with the eucalyptus and pine trees.
When crossing the Ribatejo, the region is divided into three very different landscapes and designated by “lezíria” (“campo” or “seafront”), “Bairro” and “moor”. The fame of the wines of Ribatejo was born even before the founding of the country. The wines were mentioned by D. Afonso Henriques in 1170, in the letter of the city of Santarém. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the monarchs D. Pedro I in 1384, D. Afonso V in 1450, and D. João II in 1487, were concerned to protect the region by prohibiting the entry of wines from abroad. The literature of Gil Vicente immortalized the wines of Ribatejo in the car “Pranto de Maria Parda”, where there are references to the wine of the region of Abrantes. The Letters of Law published in 1907 and 1908, during the dictatorship of João Franco, considered these typical regional wines.
Here, wines generally have a higher alcohol content because of the warming of the berries by the reflection of the sun on the white sands where the vine is planted. In common, these areas are influenced by the proximity of the Tagus and the temperate sub-Mediterranean climate. From this combination are born wines with a lot of personalities.
Due to the appearance of bullfighting in this region, it is customary to compare the behaviour of these wines in the mouth with the elegant ballet of the horses in the bullring. The young wines are very lively, do not lose their composure and have a sharp aroma of ripe red fruits with a light touch of vanilla from the wood.
It was for the quality and importance of the vineyard in the rural economy – and for the diversity of characteristics of this region – that the Ribatejo was recognized as Denomination of Controlled Origin.