At Fitapreta, the production of 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 Fitapreta apart, as well as its daring stance towards the status quo all started in the vineyard.
Fitapreta’s wines come from several Portuguese grape varieties.
The certainty that the 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.
At Fitapreta the production of red wine follows the same ideology as all our wine production, a non-interventionist stance, respectful of the terroir and history with a strong focus on the future and on what is yet to be discovered. A symbiosis between what has already been done and gone down in history and what is yet to be discovered in this vast world of red winemaking.
The red winemaking process at Fitapreta encompasses several stages:
The red winemaking process seeks to respect all the terroir and history of the Alentejo, A Touriga Vai Nua, which seeks to show Touriga Nacional in its purest form, is only aged in stainless steel so that its aromatic component is not altered by wood and also aged for only 6 months so that all the primary aromatics are maintained.
The red winemaking process has its general guide lines, however, each red wine has its own soul and, therefore, its creation process is not the same.
Hand-sorting the grapes is one of the most important stages in the red wine production process. At Fitapreta, winemakers and winegrowers are equal partners in winemaking. High quality wine is only possible from human intervention with nature in three phases: creation, transformation and conservation of the grape that begins in the vineyard and ends when a bottle of wine is opened.
he first stage in the winery is the choice of grapes, at this stage, on a sorting table the winery and the winemakers have to select the grapes that are in perfect conditions of ripeness and sanity and exclude the grapes that do not meet the quality criteria for Fitapreta red wines.
De-stemming and smooth crushing of the grapes is nothing more than the separation of the stalk and then crushing the grapes in a fermentation tank. The aim of de-stemming and smooth crushing is to release the grape juice without tearing the skin of the grape, which may give off unwanted vegetal flavours and also for slower extraction of color and tannins.
The skill lies in defining the ideal speed and pressure of the destemmer, which varies according to each batch of grapes.
The red varieties do not all have the same berry size and crush resistance. So for each grape the system has to be regulated so that the destemming and smooth crushing is just right for each variety, creating red wines that are an expression of fruit and their terroir.
For us, gravity flow is the correct way to move the masses (grape skins, pips and pulp), mechanical pumping of must is not allowed!!! To avoid bruising or tearing the very fragile skins only gravity is used and never pumps at Fitapreta. The use of mass pumps instead of gravity flow promotes the extraction of undesirable aromas and green phenolic compounds. The crushed grapes are transferred to the fermentation tank by a conveyor belt.
In the spontaneous fermentation of red wines, the indigenous yeast population initiates spontaneous fermentation. The lack of control at this stage is the most risky part of natural fermentation. In artificial fermentation, the terrain is safer, guaranteeing the growth and development of the yeasts. However, the prize of a natural fermentation is wines with greater aromatic complexity. The natural fermentation temperature never exceeds 27 ºC and remontage is carried out so as to maximise air contact and increase colour stability in the red wine.
During and after fermentation cold soaking is initiated. The post-fermentation maceration or cuivason is considered to be an essential winemaking tools at Fitapreta Vinhos, as it allows for a more prolonged extraction of tannins. Daily tasting determines the duration of the maceration time.
The presses are the result of the gentle pressing of the masses. Pressing is an important step in the red winemaking. The wine from pressing is called press wine. The pressing process is relatively simple: press the skins and extract all the elements that can contribute positively to the palate of the finished red wine, without extracting herbaceous and bitter components.
The barrel selection begins with the choice of the best type of wood for the red wine in question. There are different types of oak that are used in making red wines: French oak, American oak, Eastern oak and Portuguese oak. In the case of Fitapreta red wines, French oak is mainly used but there is also Portuguese oak. The barrel selection varies according to: forest, wood grain, type of charring and volume of the barrel.