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Talha top tips to buy now


#StaySafe #StayatHome with Sarah Ahmed

#StaySafe #StayatHome with Sarah Ahmed[PT] #SarahAhmed, fala sobre alguns dos aspectos que mais a entusiasmam nos #VinhosdePortugal: o seu carácter diferenciador e a capacidade que combinar técnicas tradicionais e modernas. Como é o caso dos vinhos de #talha que estão passar por um momento muito entusiasmante.Visite o link dos Vinhos de Talha: http://vinhodetalha.vinhosdoalentejo.pt/en/index.html e o link do website da Sarah Ahmed: https://thewinedetective.co.uk[EN] Sarah Ahmed, talks about some of the aspects that most excite her in #WinesofPortugal: it's differentiating character and the blend between the modern and traditional winemaking. As is the case of "talha" wines that are now enjoying a really exciting revival.Visit the Talha Wines link: http://vinhodetalha.vinhosdoalentejo.pt/en/index.htmland the link to Sarah Ahmed's website: https://thewinedetective.co.uk#WinesofPortugal#winelovers#VinhosdeTalha

Posted by Wines of Portugal on Friday, April 17, 2020


Wines of Portugal’s Stay Safe, Stay at Home lockdown video series featured one from yours truly on Friday on a Portuguese winemaking theme dear to my heart – when old meets new.  The example par excellence is talha wines from Alentejo.  Fortunately, I had a ‘hot off the press’ sample to hand from the hosts of Amphora Day, Herdade do Rocim in Vidigueira, who are prolific in clay.

The video has sparked a number of requests about availability of the wine shown.  Spreading the net wider, here are some lock-down tips on other talha wines currently available in the UK, followed by some useful links where you can find out more about talha wines from Alentejo.

First, aside from the history angle and frequent focus on traditional grapes, what’s different about talha wine?  For me, they are a brilliant halfway house between oak (which brings it own flavours and tannins to the party) and stainless steel (inert, so it puts the emphasis on primary fruit and freshness).  So talha wines can offer greater purity of  varietal and vineyard expression, but without sacrificing character, thanks to the use of skins (which bring textural grape tannins and spicy grape skin flavours).

Whilst DOC talha wines must be aged in impermeable amphora to avoid oxidation, clay is more porous than stainless steel, allowing for a gentle oxygenation.  This softens tannins, making for great approachability in the reds.  Plus, there’s limited scope for extraction in talha – it’s more a case of infusion of skins, than working skins to extract tannin and flavour.  Talha wines tend to be lighter-framed than their oaked contemporaries.

For white wines, the oxygenation, especially for whites, takes the primary edge off the fruit and you see interesting tertiary dried fruit and honey characters earlier.  The talhas themselves can impart an intriguing dusty/smoky/iodine finish to the palate too.

The vintage in the video – Herdade do Rocim Fresh from Amphora Nat Cool Alentejo 2019 (DOC Alentejo Vinho de Talha) – is currently available at Bar Douro Bottle Shop at £17.75 (litre bottle) or in Bar Douro’s “Natural Box.” Additionally featuring wines from cutting edge producers Tiago Sampaio, Mateus Nicolau de Almeida and Filipa Pato (who makes lovely amphora wines), for those of you who attended the winemaker dinners I hosted at Bar Douro, it offers a wonderful walk down memory lane.

Scoping out what’s available online for delivery from UK retailers, here are my findings:

Herdade do Rocim Fresh from Amphora Nat Cool Alentejo 2018 (DOC Alentejo Vinho de Talha)

In the video, I taste the 2019, but the excellent 2018 is the vintage currently listed by retailers (apart from Bar Douro) in the UK.  I tasted it in January, at UK importer Hallgarten & Druitt’s Minerality Tasting.  It is pale crimson, with a touch of catering chocolate to its vivid, mineral-sluiced raspberry fruit and lifted -rose turkish delight/waxy damask rose florals.  With fresh, sappy acidity, ultra-fine tannins and just 11.5% alcohol, it delivers all the promise of the Niepoort Nat Cool label – drinkability, hence the litre-sized bottle.  £18.28 at Corking Wines, £22 at Old Bridge Wine

Herdade do Rocim Amphora Branco 2018 (DOC Alentejo Vinho de Talha)

Tasted with Pedro Ribeiro at Rocim Amphora Day in November, 2019, he told me 2018 produced the best whites he has seen in 10 years.  I’ve identified in brackets the qualities which Ribeiro ascribes to the more obscure grapes in this blend of Antão Vaz 40%, Manteúdo 20% (acidity), Perrum 20% (minerality), Rabo de Ovelha 20% (volume). Traditional grapes which, incidentally, Rocim are now planting afresh.  Herdade do Rocim Amphora Branco 2018 spent six months in amphora on skins, with no additions other than minimal sulphur at bottling. Yellow glints, with delicate spice and fennel to the nose and beguiling honeysuckle, crystallised ginger and cinnamon to its apricot and pear/pear skin on a textural, lightly phenolic (in a good way) palate.  12%  £19.29 at All About Wine,  £20.47 (75cl) at Wine Buyers

Herdade do Rocim Amphora Tinto 2018 (DOC Alentejo Vinho de Talha)

The original talha winery at Herdade do Rocim

A blend of Moreto 50%, Tinta Grossa 30%, Trincadeira 15%, Aragonez 5%, I found this to be fuller than usual, a little minty, a little (catering, vegetal) chocolatey, with the scent of violets to its persistent arc of blueberry and blackberry fruit.  Spicy delicate tannins and fresh acidity make for a seamless finish.  12%  £19.29 at All About Wine,  £20.47 at Wine Buyers.

Bojador Vinho de Talha Branco 2018 (DOC Alentejo Vinho de Talha)

Rocim winemaker Pedro Ribeiro also makes Talha wines sourced from old Vidigueira vineyards under his Bojador label.  A blend of Perrum, Roupeiro, Rabo de Ovelha and Manteúdo fermented and aged for 9 months on skins in Talha, again with no additions other than minimal sulphur at bottling.  The profile is softer, with a calmer, pithily textural delivery, less about primary fruit, with orange peel and dessicated pineapple and dried apricot.  The spice (ginger) and herb (lavender, fennel seed, cinammon) notes are ratcheted up a notch with 3 months more skin contact.  Mineral acidity makes for nice acidity and enhances the dry profile.  Lovely.  12%  £22.75 at Davys (2016 vintage).

Bojador Vinho de Talha Tinto 2018 (DOC Alentejo Vinho de Talha)

This blend of Trincadeira, Moreto and Tinta Grossa was vinified in like fashion to the white.  Conversely, I found it less obviously a Talha wine than the Rocim, being richer fruited, with red berry and plum.  Trace notes of mint, tobacco and violets lend fragrance and detail.  The finish  – sinuous, long and persistence, has an attractive mulchy, savoury (clay?) quality to the ruffled tannins. 14%  £24.95 at Davy’s.

Herdade Sao Miguel Art. Terra Amphora Tinto 2017 (Vinho Regional Alentejano)

Alexandre Relvas Jr & Nuno Franco, winemaker

A medium-bodied but relatively rugged, round, consistently delicious amphora red, this blend of 50% Aragonez, 40% Trincadeira and 10% Moreto has nice concentration and persistence of open-knit, spicy plum and blackberry fruit, with a hint of iodine and balsamic.  It is the perfect companion for pizza or rustic meat dishes. Grapes were hand harvested, naturally fermented in talha and the resulting wine spent around 60 days on skins and was then aged for a further 3 months in small amphorae prior to bottling.  £17.99 at Roberts & Speight



Talha maker’s mark

Interested to find out more about talha wine?  You can follow my adventures, visiting with talha producers in these three reports from 2015 and 2019:

The real thing – I take a look at traditional talha winemaking – wines served directly from ‘antique’ talhas.  Very beautiful they are too, as you’ll see, bearing their date of birth and the individual talha-makers’ mark.

Contemporary talha wines – old meets new as talha wines go into bottle, with tasting notes for some pioneering examples.

The current status – I report on Herdade do Rocim Amphora Day 2019, taking stock on developments  –  the growth in popularity of talha wines.

Click here for the Alentejo CVR dedicated web-page & video about talha wines.


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