Nowadays, with an expressive increase of tourism in Portugal, many people use to ask us why do we still work with traditional granite lagares; “is it for tourists?”, “is it a marketing strategy?”.
The human and familiar factors are essential for this project. That’s why, since the farm acquisition by its founder Jorge Almeida in 1986, we’ve never stopped using this method on our winemaking process. For us, stepping grapes is the most important moment on each harvest; it’s when we reunite family and friends and invite them to make this wine together with us. There’s a poetic and affective dimension on foot treading, and there’s also a memory activation – with touch, leg’s sensation, smell; an affective dimension that we transfer to the final product, that reminds us every year why do we still make it; enriching our product and also reinforcing our history.
If the affective and human elements are important, the technical advantages are, for sure, the main reason for our choice.
In fact, this fermentation method was historically more usual in Douro because of the Port wine’s production; for it, the indigenous grape varieties’s associated with lagar’s fermentation had superior results – a very concentrated and intense must, ideal for Port’s vinification.
The greatest advantage of this process is to be able to obtain the most from both skin and seeds – where there’s more concentration of color and tannins. This happens through the work of pressing and crushing the must (feet against granite stone), which is a much more intense work than the fermentation vat’s mix and maceration.
With more tannins and color concentration we are able to achieve reserves and grand reserves with greater longevity for longer vat’s and bottle’s aging, which results in wines with more smoothness, volume and complexity.
We do not fermentate all of the grapes on lagares and this is also an important part in the wine cellar’s procedures. Throughout the harvest we make this selection – the best grapes and those varieties that suits better our reserve wines. Along with lagares we also work with fermentation stainless steel vats, which, due to their very different characteristics, allow us to work with lighter and more fruity wines that are also essential to compose our portfolio and to finish our wines, since we work with blends – joining different grape varieties and fermentation methods.
With these 2 methods we look for balanced wines, that reveal its terroir and history.
In addition to the family and friends who have been occupying our lagares for decades to participate in each bottle, we now also receive tourists, who help us and take an unforgettable experience with them.