Factor XPTO: Vinha das Penicas – Old Vineyards, the expression of a territory
Alberto Almeida was born in a small rural village, named São Martinho de Árvore, near Coimbra. This village is included in the region of Bairrada. Since a very young age, Alberto helped his family who worked the land to produce wine, vegetables and milk to their own consumption.
It is in this context of permanent contact with the land that he establishes a strong relationship with nature, letting himself be enchanted by the cycle of the harvests, the magic of the succession of seasons, the colors of autumn or the smell of freshly tilled land.
The hardness and charm of ancestral agricultural practices, especially those linked to wine, indelibly marked his childhood, his imagination and his personality.
Later, fascinated by the discovery of the admirable world of wines, especially by the Baga variety, from Bairrada, and in a nostalgic impetus to return to his childhood imagination, he decides to “go back” to the land and make his first wine in the 2006 vintage.
This first winemaking experience led him to the fascinating discovery of “garage wines” and irreversibly marked his destiny. From that moment, he never stopped!
Restless, daring and defender of a sustainable vitiviniculture that respects the land, the people and, above all, defender of wines with less intervention he initiates a project to recover old vines. In order to do this, he tries out different winemaking approaches, using barrels of different types and origins and the region’s autochthonous grape varieties.
This work of experimentation leads him to the creation of the Vinha das Penicas – Vinhedos Antigos project, in 2017, with the aim of creating wines with little intervention, from 2.5 hectares of vines aged between 70 and 110 years, which were rescued from abandonment.
The Sub-Region – Terras de Sicó:
The region has a temperate Mediterranean climate characterized by cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers, with days of wide temperature range. There is often morning fog that lingers until about 11 a.m., allowing balanced maturations and the production of elegant red wines and very fresh whites.
Although the creation of the GI Beira Atlântico sub-region Terras de Sicó is recent, a little over 25 years ago, we can find millenary traces of the vine and wine culture in the region, with several stone-dug mills dating back to pre-Roman and Roman times.
Besides the vine culture, the region has other historical treasures such as the Roman ruins, castles and churches; not forgetting the gastronomy and endogenous products such as honey, olive oil, Rabaçal cheese and, inevitably, the Terras de Sicó wine.
The region preserves a unique heritage of old vineyards, planted in soils mainly of clay-limestone origin with different nuances, but also with schist outcrops.
The vines on which the Vinha das Penicas – Vinhedos Antigos project is based are located in the Terras de Sicó sub-region, more specifically in Miranda do Corvo and Condeixa.
In these vineyards we can find planted the grape varieties of Baga and Fernão Pires, largely dominant, among more than a dozen of other native varieties. In the red varieties, Bastardo, Rufete, Trincadeira and grand noir are the ones that stand out; and in the white ones, we can find Bical, Dona Branca and Rabo de Ovelha.
The Vinha das Penicas – Vinhedos Antigos project was born out of a passion for wine, especially for differentiated wines that express the authenticity and uniqueness of the territory where they were created. It was also born out of the realization, validated throughout the wine-making trials carried out, that there is a territory of excellence for the production of high-quality wines in the sub-region of Terras de Sicó.
This territory of excellence constitutes the starting point for the creation of “author wines”, of limited production, in an artisanal and minimalist approach, which express the fidelity to a concept. A concept with identity, character, complexity and, above all, singularity.
Manual work is favored in the vineyards, without recourse to the use of herbicides, seeking to implement cultural practices that provide the harvesting of grapes of irreproachable sanitary quality, which allow minimal intervention in the winery.
The wines are made using indigenous yeasts, with measured doses of sulphur dioxide and finishing in top quality used barrels from St. Emilion (Bordeaux) for the reds and from Burgundy for the whites.
The wines result from the field blends of 2.5 hectares of very old vines, divided into 4 plots with ages ranging from 60 to 114 years, planted on clay-limestone and schist soils.