Fita da Fitapreta Alentejo
A misremembered course code on a college application led António Maçanita to unwittingly sign up for Agro-Industrial Engineering, a course of studies that happened to include a viticulture course taught by an esteemed oenologist and winemaker. Falling in love with wine, António and two friends planted a vineyard while they were still in college in his maternal homeland, the Azores. While they lost their first crop, the company still remains and is one of the most respected wineries in the islands. When he was 23, António joined forces with the most influential viticultural consultant in Portugal and started the Fitapreta winery in Alentejo. Even while balancing these ambitious projects, he continued his training at some of the world’s best wineries (d'Arenberg in Australia, Merryvale in California, Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux, and back in Cali at Rudd Estate, working with the former winemaker at Opus One, among others!) all the while picking up techniques and ethics to further shape his projects back home. Barely in his 40s, António Maçanita has become one of Portugal’s most important winemakers, and is part of a movement seeking to restore traditional methods and varietals.
Altentejo, like the Languedoc in France of 20 years ago, is shaking off a reputation for over-produced, bulk wines of little character. The region is vast, however, nearly a third of the country, and contains many excellent sites for high-quality production. On average, Alentejo sees 3,000 hours of annual sunshine and 600mm (less than 24 inches) of annual rainfall, less than 15% of which falls during the growing season.
The “Fita” is made of 50% Aragonez (Tempranillo), 30% Touriga Nacional, and 20% Alicante Bouschet, all hand-harvested from sustainably farmed vines, 12-50 years in age. António is committed to gravity feeds in all of his wineries so the wine is treated gently from crush to aging. Fermentation happens with native yeasts, and the wine is aged half in stainless steel, and half in French oak.
We think this red is the perfect wine to bridge summer and fall: stll light and juicy enough for warm days, but with a bit of fall spice in the finish. If you’ve never had a wine from the Alentejo, this is a great (and inexpensive!) wine to get you started!