Popularly mistaken as amphora, Talha are brilliant winemaking machines. Harvested grapes are dumped in the top where they ferment into wine. Eventually all the skins and seeds and stems settle to the bottom creating a natural filter through which the wine is drained directly into glasses at the bottom of the pot. No chemicals or additives, just grapes and native yeast and gravity naturally doing their thing together.
After a few weeks of maturation, the Talha are officially blessed by priests on St. Martins Day in early November. The community comes together to celebrate, stoppers are opened for the first time and the new wine is shared around during an all day party. Each Talha continues to provide its daily duty of filling glasses throughout the year until the cycle is renewed on the next St. Martins Day.
The good news is this nearly extinct tradition is thriving again. Where once it was considered by many to be a best forgotten, primitive leftover practice from the past, a younger generation of modern Alentejian winemakers have re-elevated it to its ‘pride of place’ position, restoring this unique identity for the region once again.