17 Oct Herdade do Mouchao
The fine, rolling landscape of Portugal’s Alentejo region, set between Lisbon and the Algarve, is dominated by cork forests and olive groves. In the early 19th century, Thomas Reynolds moved here from Oporto, chiefly to become involved in the cork business.
Three generations later, his grandson, John Reynolds, purchased a 900 hectare property with two small rivers running through it – Herdade do Mouchão. In addition to the family’s cork activities, he set about making wine. Vineyards were planted and in 1901 he built a high-ceilinged adobe winery (or “adega”) with white washed walls and a traditional red-tiled roof. Following the 1974 revolution, the estate was expropriated and only returned to the family in 1985. Today, the Herdade do Mouchão continues to be run by the descendants of the original family whose cellar and vineyard workers have been with them for generations. The process is, as it always has been, unhurried. The grape varieties are local, picked by hand and foot-trodden.
In the ever-changing world of winemaking, Herdade do Mouchão, remains a traditional, family-run winery. The 38 hectares of vines are made up of several vineyards in different areas of the estate. The earliest planting took place on the flat, low-lying ground near the winery (adega), which is particularly suited to the Alicante Bouschet grape.
This grape variety, never much prized in its native France, thrives on the terroir of Herdade do Mouchão (230 metres above sea level). Since its introduction, in the late 19th century, it has adapted well to the clay soil, the intense summer heat and the erratic winter rainfall, withstanding the occasional frost. Other vineyards, on higher and well-drained ground, are planted with red varieties such as Trincadeira, Aragonês, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Syrah. Here there are also a limited number of white varieties, mainly Antão Vaz, Arinto and Perrum.