Local wineEl Vinho da Talha
Discover this Portugues local wine with a long history
Vinho da Talha is a local wine from Alentejo, in southern Portugal that’s made with a thousand-year-old technique. We are looking at a winemaking process that dates back to Roman times and became a patrimony of this beautiful land located in southern Europe.
When you talk to local winemakers in this remarkable wine region of Portugal, they will tell you that Vinho da Tahla is something that is completely distinct from your average wine. Vinho da Talha means leaving nature to deliver the fruit of the land.
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The talha, an ancestral Portugues wine container.
A talha is a massive Portuguese clay amphora that can hold up to 1,000 liters of wine. You can easily find them in tabernas (Tradicional Alentejo wine bars that serve local food) as a mere decoration or filled with house wine.
Alentejo wine, vinho da Talha: the winemaking process
After the harvest, the grapes arrive to the winery and they are destemmed. In some cases, the grapes are still destemmed manually, as was done traditionally.
The juice, the skin, and the stems end up in the Talha where the fermentation takes place. During this process, winemakers punch down the thick mass of grape pulp and skin to keep the mouth of the jar clear and prevent the amphora from exploding. This manual stirring, which occurs twice a day, also helps the wine to obtain deeper colors and aromas as well as flavor complexity.
The porosity of the clay pot lets the wine cool down during the fermentation process and preserves all the wine’s delicate flavors and aromas.
The fermentation lasts 8-15 days approximately. It can go on a little longer until the solid parts present in the Talha settle down to the bottom of the jar. This solid part also works as a natural filter, and when wine is ready it is directly poured in a glass or a bottle through a tap located at the bottom of the pot.
The amphora wine making method in Alentejo is a cultural heritage unique to the people in this region. A simple process carried out by true locals.
Locals drink it at tabernas (popular wine bars) and traditional fairs.
The Sao Martino village festival, celebrated on the 11th of November, is a perfect occasion to start enjoying this typical local wine, freshly made.
Local wine from Alentejo, Vinho da Tahla: tasting notes
Like most wines of low intervention, the fruit is the predominant flavor.
The color is garnet, aromas of red fruit, ripe cherries, smokey and earthy notes are present and give more complexity.
The body is medium with vibrant acidity which makes the wine refreshing. The tannins are firm and very well integrated. The fruit is the prevailing flavor and the wine is very juicy.
It’s good wine at a fair price.
Video Credit: Wines of Alentejo
Wine producers that bet on the Alentejo traditional winemaking process
There are several wineries in Alentejo that are producing Vinho da Talha and now have their classification within the Alentejo DOC.
We would like to say thank you to Honrado Vineyards for sending us the images that have contributed to enriching this article.
This Portuguese winery is located in Vila de Frales, a well-known place in Alentejo for being the capital of Vinho da Talha.
Wine regions of Portugal: Alentejo and its vineyards
Alentejo touts beautiful scenery and breathtaking drives. Here, a sunny, mild landscape ranges from plains to hills and ends in steep mountains toward the northeast of the country where the land rises up to 1,000 m. The coastal scene is stunning, where among cliffs visitors can find shelter in marvelous small coves.
In this wine making region of Portugal, vineyards share the landscape with olive trees and Montado (Dehesa in Spain link) which is a Mediterranean forest ecosystem. The alcornoque, or cork oak, is one of the trees that make up the Montado. Predictably, local farmers use the bark of these oaks to make cork. As a matter of fact, Portugal is the world-leader in cork production.
Alentejo covers one-third of the entire country area. Wines produced here can vary substantially based on microclimate and soil. The climate is hot in the south, and it gets cooler in the mountainous areas.
The DOC Alentejo is divided into eight sub-regions:
Portalegre, Borba, Redondo, Vidigueira, Reguengos, Moura, Évora and Granja/Amareleja.
Many Alentejo winemakers label their wines as Vinho Regional Alentejano whether they are qualified for DOC or not.
Grape varieties in the Alentejo region
White Grapes varieties:
The white Antão Vaz is the most prevalent grape in the region, with good acidity and tropical fruit flavors. Arinto and Roupeiro give freshness to wines as they are varieties with high acidity; Verdelho and Alvarinho are increasingly used. Alentejo winemakers use lesser-known varieties such as Diagalves, Manteúdo, Perrum, and Rabo de Ovelha to make blends.
Red Grapes varieties:
Aragonez (Tempranillo) along with Trincadeira are the most popular red grapes. The red-fleshed Alicante Bouschet seems to have gained popularity among wine lovers. Alfrocheiro and Castelão also have valuable parts to play. Moreto, Tinta Caiada, and Tinta Grossa are used to make blended wines.
Imported grapes such as the international Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and the national Touriga Nacional join forces to make this wine region a flourishing spot for wine lovers.
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