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The Alentejo region covers nearly a third of continental Portugal, stretching all the way from the coast eastwards to the frontier with Spain. The moderating influences of the Atlantic diminish sharply inland, with late Spring frosts and low summer rainfall being continual problems. In Portugal the majority of ex-pat English winemakers seem to have settled in the Douro Valley and to focus on making top quality ports with distinctly English names such as Taylor and Graham. One or two more adventurous souls, in this instance the Richardson and Reynolds family, have ventured further south, to the fecund vineyards of Alentejo, which are located between Lisbon and the Algarve. Braving the wilder excesses of the intense climate, the wild rabbits and pata negra pigs, not to mention, in April 1974, the Portuguese Revolution, they have persevered and the vinous results are outstanding.
Dom Rafael is the 2nd label of the celebrated Herdade do Mouchão and the wines are softer and more approachable in youth than their illustrious sibling. While Mouchäo is made using strictly traditional methods, the Dom Rafael wines are made using modern technology in their own spanking new state of the art winery. The red wines (from Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, Aragonez) are packed with concentrated fruit whilst the whites are aromatic and vibrant and rounded on the palate.