The Adega Cartuxa iconic wine Pêra Manca (“Limp Stone”) owes its name to the wobbling stone ground where the vineyards are planted
Among the several wines by the brand, there is one that makes Adega da Cartuxa especially famous, while being also one of the most remarkable staples in Portuguese wine making – Pêra-Manca.
It is told that the Pêra-Manca grapevines date back to the 16th century, when they were property of the brothers from Espinheiro abbey. On account of being an expensive crop, the brothers ceded them to a squire of king D. João II. Thus, Pêra Manca wine became a staple on board ships during the Portuguese Discoveries, having reached Brazil for the first time with Pedro Álvares Cabral (Portuguese navigator and explorer credited as the discoverer of Brazil).
Said story was told when I visited the winery in Évora, in the room where the massive barrels holding the next great wines from the brand age peacefully. Pêra Manca, however, as an exclusive wine, will only be available in certain, very special, years, when the winemaker believes it holds up to the high quality standards that define Adega da Cartuxa. First produced in 1990, only 13 crops since were awarded the honour of being bottled with the red Pêra Manca label, whereas white Pêra Manca is produced every year.
I was then invited to watch a video about the everyday life in the vineyard, how each grape variety is handled differently until it reaches the cellar. There, the grapes are processed according to variety and type of wine. The bottling, labeling and packaging are also very important stages prior to the wine reaching shops and restaurants and, ultimately, our table!
Back to the cellar, we proceeded to a different room, where the French oak barrels of red Cartuxa Reserva, or Scala Coeli, mature. Scala Coeli owes its name to Santa Maria (Holy Mary) Scala Coeli, Cartuxa convent bona fide name, and each year it’s produced from a variety foreign to Alentejo, ergo adding new flavours and layers to the wine.
Before the tasting, I walked through the “Scents Hallway”, an apothecary’s haven holding replicas of the most symbolic scents used in the wines by Adega da Cartuxa, such as Aragonês and Trincadeira for reds, and Antão Vaz and Roupeiro for whites.
Finally, the tasting! There are several tasting options available, from one entry level wine, to five high-end wines chosen by the visitor. All of them include the three house olive oils, Álamos, EA and Cartuxa Gourmet, beautifully paired with the distinctive bread from Alentejo!
Adega da Cartuxa has been part of the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation for over 50 years, a non-profit organisation, whose main focus is the social, economic, educational and spiritual development of Évora.
This World Heritage site city has plenty of mandatory stops, Adega da Cartuxa being one you should not dare to miss!