A trip to Alentejo discovering wine in talhas, celebrating St Martin
A three-day trip in the Alentejo region by an Italian friend of Artenova’s, who visited wineries and “tascas”, the local taverns. This travel log is an opportunity to get to know the world of Talhas, a tradition that has never disappeared from Alentejo. November 11th, St Martins Day is a traditional festival in Alentejo of the opening of the Talhas …
By Patrizia Baroni:
Historical data tells us that terracotta vessels were used by the Romans to preserve liquids and food. Since those times, in Alentejo, Portugal, the tradition of using amphorae for wine has continued unbroken for two thousand years up to the present day.
Art, landscapes, museums, wineries, taverns and bars bear witness to the importance of viticulture in Alentejo, making it one of the best wine tourism destinations in the world.
The itinerary begins at “Strada del Vino” museum in Evora, the capital of the central-southern region of Alentejo, where you can taste the wine and learn about the different types of soil, vines and winemaking techniques. It is precisely due to the variety of soils (granite, calcareous, Mediterranean or schist), the countless hours of exposure to the sun and a varied selection of endemic vines, that a diversified production of high quality wine is obtained. As for its characteristics: the white wines are aromatic, fresh and harmonious, while the reds, ruby or garnet red, are more intense, robust and at the same time sweet and slightly astringent.
The journey continues with a wine-tasting tour of the numerous Adegas along the sunny plains of the region from Borba, Redondo, Reguengos to Vidigueira, Cuba and Beja further south. The aim was to search the area for places where wine is still produced in the enormous amphorae called Talhas, symbol of Alentejo wine.
However, the main fun and fascination was in discovering the local taverns called “Tascas” (photo below) who also make wine with spontaneous fermentation in these majestic amphorae where it is preserved. The final product is of high quality and served directly to customers from a tap at the bottom of the Talha. It takes nearly a year to consume the entire contents of the Talha, generally before the following summer.
The culture, history and social life of Alentejo is linked to wine from grape harvest to fermentation but the culminating moment is the annual opening of the Talhas that takes place on St Martin’s day on November 11 th , with local festivals and events. For the trip to be perfect, it should culminate just around this time, in a visit to the wine tasting event organized by Herdade do Rocim (November 16th, see programme below) where producers of Amphora Wine from all over the world present their wines, including Rocco di Carpeneto from Italy a client of Artenova’s.
Have a good trip!
Programme of the event at Herdade do Rocim, Vidigueira, Alentejo