The Talha wine, a patrimonial heritage, plays a central role in the daily life of Amareleja and its identity. It is part, not only of the history and heritage of the Roman presence in the land for more than two thousand years, but an integral part of the culture and social life of the population of Alentejo, especially in the local tradition of the Amareleja, Vidigueira, Cuba and Vila de Frades.
Territory of small producers in small plots, wine is produced here by everyone (usually as a family), in talhas (amphora), mainly for their own consumption, socializing and exchange of experiences, in a spirit of healthy competition.
Over the years, the techniques of winemaking in clay pots have been passed down from generation to generation, varying slightly depending on local tradition. Added to the different blend of grape varieties and talhas used, this gives the wine a unique richness and diversity.
On St. Martin’s Day (11th November), the opening of the talhas is celebrated and the wine is shared and tasted by friends and family.
During the rest of the year (as long as the talha wine lasts) remains the tradition of “copinho” (i.e. “little glass”), where every day, before lunch and dinner, these wines are drank throughout all of the taverns of Amareleja as well as in the houses of producers as a way of gathering friends.
These are wines that speak of an ancestral culture of the vine and wine, vinified in old clay pots (amphora) obtained throughout Amareleja, each with its own history and singularities, acquired over the vast years of use.
For these wines, we use grapes from our older vines (most of which are free-standing).
Harvested by hand, destemmed and crushed. After filling the talhas with grapes, the fermentation process begins, without any temperature control. In this phase, the grape must is manually stirred with a wooden puncher, several times a day, in order to guarantee homogeneity throughout the fermentation process and to enhance the extraction of color, aromas and flavors. These daily movements are also important to avoid the accumulation of carbon gas inside the talha, which can lead to its bursting. After fermentation, the skins settle on the bottom and stay there for a few months.
Traditionally, the tasting of the long-awaited wines (straight from the pot) is done on St. Martin’s Day (11th November) .
Usually, the skins remain in the pots until mid-January, when the wine goes through a slow and delicate filtering process. The wine first passes through the skins deposited at the bottom, then through a handmade filter, composed of a cane, that runs through the cork toggle filled with junça – a riverside plant with natural filtering capabilities -, running clear and thin, to the outside.