At Fita Preta, the production of white wine is guided by a non-interventionist philosophy, with respect for the nature, and a search for the knowledge of the past while always looking to the future. It all starts in the vineyard in an intricate synergy between mankind, vine, soil and climate. The uncompromising standard of quality that sets Fita Preta apart, as well as its daring stance towards the status quo all started in the vineyard.
Fita Preta’s white wines come from several Portuguese white grape varieties.
There are several ways to make white wine, whites from tanks based on fruitiness and purity, whites from amphora that embody the Alentejo of old, the wines fermented in wood that express our vision of the complex and textured white and finally the very special whites such as the flor white (Fina Flor) or the fermentation on skins white (Laranja Mecânica).
The certainty that wine is intrinsically tied to the land and that a non-interventionist winemaking, allied to a respect for the terroir of each small plot can, with the right oenology, make all the difference. It can completely change a wine’s profiles. Zoning is part of the Fita Preta’s methodology, divide and conquer. This approach is shared over both the viticulture and oenology process, because in the winery all the parcels of vines, however small they may be, are also worked on separately to truly appreciate each piece of the Alentejo terroir.
The white winemaking process includes several stages: grape pressing, must sedimentation and alcoholic fermentation. Each of these steps in the white winemaking process can be altered depending on the white wine in question, and in some cases malolactic fermentation can also be carried out after the alcoholic fermentation.
In the case of our Fita Preta Branco, the grapes are pressed as whole bunches, then the juice decants in stainless steel vats at low temperature (12ºC), we clean it and then it ferments with indigenous or inoculated yeasts from our vineyards. Once the white wine is almost ready, ageing in stainless steel will make the wine cleaner and crystalline with the decantation of the sediments over time.
The whole bunch pressing process occurs as follows:
whole bunches of grapes are hand loaded into a press, and then a very slow and gentle pressing cycle begins to extract a pure juice, uncontaminated with phenolic compounds.
The juice from pressing whole bunches is much cleaner than the juice from a grape that has been destemmed. At Fita Preta, white wine is always produced by pressing whole bunches, so that the juices are cleaner and purer.
The juice is placed in a vat at low temperature to allow for cold settling before fermentation. Fermenting very clean juice gives a purer white wine with less need for filtration. This natural sedimentation is a hands-off process, no products are added to the white wine to make it clean, the cold does all the work.
Most of our white wines undergo fermentation and ageing in barrels. Although some white wines are fermented and aged in stainless steel vats or in Amphora. Normally the fermentation of white wine in barrels takes about 15 days, depending on the temperature, the musts after pressing will ferment in neutral French oak barrels.
Fermentation and ageing in oak barrels incorporate structural elements into the white wine on the palate, such as the proteins resulting from the death of the yeasts, which exist in the lees of the wine, and also a micro-oxygenating action of the barrel that allows a better incorporation of the compounds that give structure to the wine.
The wines are aged on fine lees and without "battonage" to avoid over ageing and give structure to the wine.