The most traditional Talha wine in Vila Alva is the white, produced from the varieties Antão Vaz, Roupeiro, Manteúdo, Perrum, Diagalves (Uva Rei), Larião (Uva de Algibeira), among others. However, a significant amount of red wine has also always been produced here, mainly from the Tinta Grossa variety, and also some “Claret”, which results from the mixture of white and red grapes.
Produced in Talhas or in pots, heirs of the great Roman vessels, Talha wine, both white and red, results from a fermentation process that takes place together with the wine masses, in the slang called 'mother', where this wine remains at least until St. Martin’s day (11th of November), there acquiring the characteristics that distinguish it from all other wines.
In a small notebook found in our winery, Daniel Tabaquinho dos Santos (1923-1985), a wine maker known locally as “Mestre Daniel”, his production process is described as follows:
“[…] When you start making new wine, you crush white or red grapes in a 'ciranda' or crushing mill. Then the grape dough and the must are poured into the Talha, giving it a good wick first; do not leave the Talha too full so it will not spill. […] Stir twice a day in the morning and at night until the fermentation has subsided and then you can stir it only once a day. The fermentation time depends on the grapes. […] This is how wine is made".
In the past, to allow it to be consumed throughout the year, at the end the wine was removed from the 'mother' and moved to a new Talha. Wine spirit was added and, finally, olive oil, which, due to its lower density, formed a superficial film, isolating the wine from contact with the air.
In addition to the wine produced in large quantities in the cellars, there is a very interesting concept in Vila Alva which is the ‘Tareco’. The term 'Tareco' applies to the small clay pots that almost all villagers have to produce wine at home, in a tiny and improvised cellar or even in the garage, using exactly the same wine making method of Talha wine. St. Martin's Day is a very important in the Talha wine calendar. It is on this day that the doors of the wineries are opened and the new wine tasting begins. In Vila Alva the popular saying has always been taken very seriously:
‘On St. Martin’s day, go to the winnery and taste the wine’
On this day, the wineries are packed with people, from the village and outside, who travel here to socialize and taste the wine of the new harvest, which has always enjoyed great fame in the region. In addition to the characteristic aroma of the wineries, it is also inspiring the sound of the dripping wine in a bowl, jug or even in a small glass, which will be filled, over and over again, directly from the Talha.
After a few cups, the singing erupts… and even the most reticent, those who are still somewhat inhibited or even out of tune, risk following a local traditional song.