Made in clay (2): Talha day, a festival of amphora wines

Here are the rest of our notes for wines tasted at Amphora Wine Day in the Alentejo in November 2019. You can read more about this event in part 1. Goode scores the wines; Ring describes them and indicates her favourites with asterisks. Text is by Goode and Ring. Most of the good bits are from Ring.


Voyeur Nat Cool Vinho Tinto de Anfora 2018 Douro, Portugal
This is a blend of red and white grapes from different vineyards at different heights. Pale red in colour. Very fine and expressive with a sappy edge to the juicy red fruits palate. Very fine grained structure with good acidity. A linear, juicy style. So pure and elegant with nice purity: very Niepoort. 95/100 (JG)

Three amphora reds and three amphora whites go into amphora in this ‘mulatto’ wine. The initial plan was to release 3 different wines, but the blend worked so well, they blended it all together. Voyeur will remain like this going forward, though it will be taken from different sites, altitudes, etc. each year. In 2018 it’s a 50/50 red and white blend, spending 8 months in 1000L Spanish amphora, lined with beeswax. Light, herbal, thorny and grippy, with lovely sapid plum and wild blackberry and raspberry notes. Light, effortless, pure, and alive, as is the Niepoort way. * (TR)

Château Grezan

Seculaire 2016, Faugères, France
This is 100 year old Carignan from schist soils. Normal vinification in tank then 8 months in amphora (150 litres, from near Carcassonne). Wild yeasts, no sulphites during fermentation. Rounded and smooth but has some structure. The amphora has rounded off the Carignan nicely giving it smoothness and harmony, with some well managed structure. Nice focus and warmth. 91/100 (JG)

100 year old Carignan vines were planted by the winemaker’s grandfather in Faugères’ schist soils. After a native ferment in tank, this aged in 1000L from amphora from Carcassonne for 8 months. Ripe and wild, with juniper and peppercorns flooding a very smoothed palate, flushed with warmth on the finish. (TR)

Seculaire 2015, Faugères, France
Fresh and supple with nice brightness and also some structure. It’s fine, expressive and mellow with nice smooth tannins. 92/100 (JG)

Much tighter, leaner and gripper, with finely gritty tannins framing to a bitter cherry note on the finish. More structure, less ripeness. (TR)

Zorah, Armenia

Located in the Armenian highlands, in the shadow of Turkey’s Mt Ararat. A very ambitious, modern and leading project for Armenia, when owners / founders Zorik and Yeraz Gharibian wanted to hire consultant Alberto Antonini in the late 1990s and showed him their wines, they were told “that was the worst tasting of wine I have ever got”. Thankfully the Gharibians were persistent, and Antonini always up for a challenge. The amphorae (called karas) here are handmade and they are all different. They are unlined and are all very old.

Voski 2017 Armenia
This is a blend of local white varieties Voskeat and Garandmak, 1400 m altitude, concrete fermentation and ageing. Nutty and stony with nice texture. Smooth with some richness, showing pear and white peach fruit with some delicacy. Very harmonious. 93/100 (JG)

A blend of  Voskèak and Garandmak from 1400m, this is very potent and structural with stony, nutty, almost rubbery / earthy notes on a tight and powerful palate. Some lovely white peach and pear fills in the gaps. Quite intriguing. (TR)

Karasi 2017 Armenia
This is 100% Areni Noir, fermented in concrete and aged for a year in amphora. Very supple with red cherries and raspberries. Nice elegance here with a supple palate. Silky with nice grainy structure. Very stylish. 93/100 (JG)

Areni is fermented in concrete and aged in amphora, this flows with wild raspberry, spiced plum, dried and fresh red currants, and white peppercorns on a long palate, tightly grippy on the sides. Lovely purity, finesse, and energy (even with a surprising 14 degrees). * (TR)

Yeraz 2015 Armenia
This is from 1600 m altitude, made from very old bush vines planted 150 years ago. This is fermented in concrete then aged for two years in amphorae. The wines are then blended in large wooden casks and go back to amphorae for a year. Very fine-grained, nicely structured and elegant with lovely purity and finesse. This has amazing purity and quality: very textured. 95/100 (JG)

Yeraz translates as ‘the dream’ in Armenian. This is a high altitude (1600m) of very old, 100+ year old Areni bush vines, a field blend of varying clones of the grape. After a native ferment in concrete, this aged 2 years in amphora, before blending and resting in cask, and then back to amphora for one year. Lovely herbal raspberry, cherry rule the long, elegant palate, frame with fine and tight tannins, and finishing with a lingering salty grip. Very impressive. * (TR)

Hamilton Russell, South Africa

Ashbourne Sandstone 2019 Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa
This is Sauvignon, Semillon and Chardonnay fermented in amphora, left for five months, then finished in tank. It’s a 700 litre Bonetti amphora from Italy. There’s a grassy edge to the salty citrus fruit, with some pithy notes. Juicy with a nice acid line. 90/100 (JG)

Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Chardonnay from Hemel-en-Aarde fermented in 700L amphora for 5 months, then went to tank for 2 months before bottling. Peach skin and herbal lime lead the bitter edged palate, finishing with a pointed, piercing astringent grip on the end. (TR)

André Valério, Montalto

Quinta do Montalto
Montalto are based in the north part of Lisboa, near Fatima.

Talha Blanco 2019 Lisboa (sample)
This is Fernao Pires. Very bright and appley with intense fruit and nice acid. Juicy finish. 88-90/100 (JG)

An amphora sample of Fernão Pires. You can really taste the pez here, with piney, herbal and salted notes overruling the tight pear fruit. (TR)

Talha Tinto 2018 Lisboa
Skins and stems are left in the amphora. Aragonez. Juicy and bright with nice linear cherry and raspberry fruit. Grippy and juicy. 89/100 (JG)

Talha Tinto 2019 (sample)
This year it is a Trincadeira/Aragonez blend. Intense, juicy and grippy with nice brightness. Vivid and fruity with green hints. Not finished malolactic yet. 88-92/100

Cantina del Malandrino, Etna, Sicily
This is a small 2.5 hectare vineyard on the northeast side of Etna, Sicily. They bottle these wines amphora by amphora.

Angelica Giara 3.1 2018 Sicily
This is Carricante on stems from the north side of Etna facing the sea. Bush vines. Just 300 litres made. 6 months in amphora then 6 more in used barriques. Golden colour. Stony and savoury with nice grip and dense, fresh fruit. Quite textured with a grainy finish, and notes of tea and herbs. 91/100 (JG)

This Carricante, a deep gold hue, was raised in 300L amphora for the first 6 months, and was the first bottling (hence, 3.1). After amphora, it sent 6 months in old barrique prior to bottling. Nougat, nut, is washed with soft salts, and finishes mellow and lingering, with some dried sweet herbs. (TR)

A Franco Giara 7.2 2018 Sicily
Nerello Mascalese from a very cool year. 8 months in amphora. Some ginger and mint notes with lively, grippy structyre and acid. Vivid and intense with firm tannins but a light body. 92/100 (JG)

From the cool and rainy 2018, this Nerello Mascalese was fermented and aged for 8 months in amphora. Brooding cherry, dark raspberry, thorns, and tea are gripped with ample tannins, overtaking the medium body. (TR)

Di Ego Giara 5.2. 2017 Sicily
Nerello Mascalase and Nerello Capucco from a warm year. 12 months in amphora. Supple, stony and savoury with pepper, some meat, slight animal notes, herbs and lovely florality. Tight wound, spicy and dense. Slightly wild. 91/100 (JG)

You can feel 2017s massive heat in this blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, now pouring a browning hue. This spent one year in amphora. Big and raisiny, with leather, dried florals and rampant tannins. (TR)

Malandrino 2017 Sicily
Nerello Mascalese 12 months in amphora. Complex, dense, savoury and grippy, with very fine structure and a slight wildness on the finish. Savoury and satisfying. 92/100 (JG)

Aromas of dark plum lead to wild, herbal, and balsamic notes in this Nerello Mascalese, aged one year in amphora. Tannins are quite sticky, and this finishes with a balsamic rinse. (TR)

A Franco Giara 7.1 2017
This spends 17 months in amphora. Wild and intense, grainy and spicy. Nice firm tannins with some spicy notes. Such a bold wine. 90/100 (JG)

Same as Malandrino, though this spent time in egg-shaped amphora for 7 months instead. Quite wild, with smoke, dark earth, ample balsamic notes, frames by gritty tannins. (TR)


Tapada do Coronel Vinho de Talha Branco 2017 Alentejo
From Portalagre at 700 m. Old vineyards, in amphora: Antao Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro. Subtle mint and spice with some herby undertones to the pear fruit. Has a bit of toastiness and some boiled sweets character. 89/100 (JG)

High altitude old vines of Arinto, Roupeiro, Antão Vaz spent 4 months with skins in amphora. Smoked stone, white honey, white fruit is cut with minerality and woven with a savoury brown butter note. (TR)

Talha Pezgada Branco 2018 Alentejo
This has nice texture. It’s gentle with a touch of structure. Fine spices. Grainy and slightly minty with some brightness. 91/00 (JG)

Pezgada refers to the pez amphora lining, evident in the honeyed nose, scenting the bergamot tea, mineral salts on the long, lean palate. A blend o Roupeiro, and Antão Vaz. * (TR)

Talha Pezgada Tinto 2018 Alentejo
Really elegant and smooth with nice weight. Has cherries and plums with some elegance. Nice finesse here with fresh red fruits. 91/100 (JG)

A DOC Tinto do Talha, this Alentejo blend of Moreto and Aragonez was raised in talha lined with pez. Cherry, raspberry, leather, and fine tea rule the long, elegant palate. (TR)

Herdade de Rocim

Amphora Blanco 2018 Alentejo
60 year old vines; blend of varieties. Supple, fine and expressive with some structure. Has nice bright citrus and pear fruit with a hint of pithiness. Finishes fresh with a twist of mint.  Nicely balanced with an earthy finish. 91/100 (JG)

60 year old Antao Vaz, Perrum, Rabo de Ovelha, Manteudo spent 4 months in amphora. Stencilled and tight around a core of lees, with savoury nut shell, and a bitter pear skin note on the finish. (TR)

Rocim Clay Aged Branco 2018
Fermented in a marble lagar for 15 days and then to small amphorae for 9 months. Pithy and lively with fresh citrus. Has some pear and fennel, and a bit of herbiness. Quite pithy with some structure. 90/100 (JG)

This blend of Verdelho, Viosinho, Alvarinho spent 15 days in lagares before 9 months in a small talha. Bitter pine nut, citrus and earthy stone is sharp and edgy through a snappy, pithy finish. (TR)

Fresh From Amphora Nat Cool 2018 Alentejo
This is a light cherry red colour. It’s supple and fresh with nice acid, and has some grip. Stony and mineral with nice balance. So smashable: very nat cool. 93/100 (JG)

Fits in very well with the iconic Nat’Cool project, this is a lighter hued red teeming with wild strawberry, raspberry and pitch, tightly gripped with fine tannins, but centered around a sapid core. Bright and lifted. * (TR)

Marble lagar, Rocim, with cooling plates

Amphora Tinto 2018 Alentejo
Fresh, chalky and grainy with nice rich fruit. This has juicy cherries and plums with nice spicy framing. Lovely precision here: so expressive with nice fruit. 91/100 (JG)

Aragonez, Trincadeira, Moreto, Tinta Grossa stream wild raspberry, plum, and thorns, tightly gripped on the sides, and finishing with a lingering herbal scrubbiness. (TR)

Rocim Clay Aged Tinto 2017 Alentejo
This is fermented in lagar and then goes to amphora. Structured and dense but has some restraint. Grippy and tannic with lots of impact. There’s nice supple black cherry fruit here with some raspberry brightness. Has nice acidity. 92/100 (JG)

Alicante Bouschet, Petit Verdot, Trincadeira and Tannat were fermented in lagares, and then aged in talha. Deep, dark and dense, with blackcurrant, black cherry spiked with wild mint and peppercorns. Sided with bigger, grippy tannins, but fresh with acidity. (TR)

Quinta da Pigarça

Talha Branco 2018 Alentejo
Aromatic spicy and pithy. Grippy with some earthy notes, and stones and mint. Some structure with nice tangerine and orange peel notes. 91/100 (JG)

Carena Branco 2018 Vinha da Talha, Alentejo
Pure, fresh and lively with lovely pear and citrus fruit. Nice acidity. So pure and textural with a bit of grip. Lovely fruit expression. 93/100 (JG)

Talha Spumante Traditional Method 2017 Alentejo
Nice lively spicy citrus fruit with some pear and apple notes. Lively acidity. Bright and linear . Nicely complex with a savoury twist. 90/100 (JG)

Talha Tinto 2018 Alentejo
Aromatic and slightly floral with bright fruit. Cherries, raspberries and a bit of apple here with a nice savoury bite. Supple, rounded finish, hints of tar. 90/100 (JG)

Carena Tinto 2018 Alentejo
Smoky and savoury with nice grip. Has a firm tannic backbone with some earth and spice and peat notes. Vigorous and grainy. 91/100 (JG)

Ricardo Santos of XXVI Talhas

XXVI Talhas

Ricardo Santos is the dude behind XXVI Talhas, which is based in Vidigueira. He and his colleagues have taken over the cellar of Mestre Daniel (Daniel Tabaquinho dos Santos), which has 26 Talhas (300-1200 litres) that have been disused for 30 years (since the death of Mestre Daniel in 1985). The first vintage was 2018, and dry-grown old vines are the source of the grapes. They have been successful in getting the grapes they want because they pay more.

Mestre Daniel Branco 2018 Alentejo
Blue granite and limestone soils. Six months on skins in Talha. Lovely aromatics: vivid mandarin and orange peel notes with a bit of apricot. Structured, fresh and fine on the palate (just 12% alcohol) with some hints of green tea. Lovely balance here. 93/100 (JG)

Mastre Daniel Lote X Branco 2018 Alentejo
A single Talha. Field blend from granitic soils, 40 year old vines, six different varieties. Lovely precision here with some grip. Fine with spice and citrus and a twist of grapefruit, as well as some pear and passionfruit. 94/100 (JG)


Branco de Tareco 2019 Alentejo
This is 300 litres only. 12% alcohol. Honey, nuts and spice, as well as some stones. Has some wax character. Textural and interesting with some warmth and a rounded character. Very expressive. 92/100 (JG)

Tinto de Tareco Palhete 2019 Alentejo
This is made in a 600 litre Talha, and is a field blend of reds and whites (palhete). New wax lining for the Talha this year. Fresh, grainy and stony, and slightly waxy. Shows nice freshness and elegance. Textured and very drinkable. Like a light-style red, with a bit of grip. 93/100 (JG)

Mestre Daniel Tinto 2018 Alentejo
12% alcohol. Supple and juicy with nice stony undercurrents to the bright cherry and berry fruit. Has a subtle leathery edge and some chalkiness. Fresh and fine. 93/100 (JG)

Tinto de Tareco 2019 Alentejo
Grainy and detailed with a sense of harmony and some chalky notes. Savoury and fine grained with lovely red fruits. Some warmth on the finish. 92/100 (JG)

Herdade da Anta de Cima

Talha de Argilla 2016 Alentejo
Fermented in steel, then goes to 150 litre amphorae for 6 months. This is textured and refined with ripe sweet berry fruits. Has a chalky edge and a nice smooth tannic structure. Expressive and balanced. 92/100 (JG)

See also: Part 1, amphora wine day