Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Tejo, dop and vinho regional (called Ribatejo until 2009) in central-southern Portugal. It corresponds to the province of the same name on both sides of the River Tagus (Tejo) inland from the capital Lisbon (see map under portugal). Its new name reflects a desire to distance it from its historic reputation for vast quantities of indifferent wine produced by its co-operatives from ultra-high yielding vines grown on the river’s fertile floodplains. Of its six DOP subregions (Almeirim, Cartaxo, Chamusca, Coruche, Santarém, and Tomar), Almeirim and Cartaxo (each, quantitatively at least, still dominated by a large co-operative) have been the most important. However, since the late 20th century, soils not subregions have come to define the region’s best wines. Large, family-owned agricultural estates, which started to make wine themselves in the 1990s rather than selling to the co-operatives, led the migration to poorer soils, grubbing up vineyards along the river, and concentrating production on less fertile, well-drained sandy soils, calcareous clay, and sandstone. New plantings favoured better-quality vine varieties such as castelão and trincadeira for reds and fernão pires for whites, but also introduced touriga nacional from northern Portugal and such international varieties as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvigon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Around the same time the region also benefited from major investment by two export-focused enterprises, Falua and Fiuza, whose brands helped raise the region’s profile with bargain-hunters abroad. Regrettably, the region’s most ambitious newcomer Vale D’Algares swiftly became a casualty of the global credit crunch. However, the promising white wines which it produced, together with the improved quality of dop and Vinho Regional wines, attest to Tejo’s potential.