About talha wine and its historical origins, much is actually known and already published. In this site we will try to give our best contribution. SOON MORE HISTORICAL DATA HERE.
As it is mentioned by the Alentejo Regional Wine Board (CVRA) site, talha wines are at the origin of the Alentejo production.
It is a magnificent and enduring history. Archaeological artefacts scattered across the region attest to the uninterrupted presence of the wine and vine culture on the quiet Alentejo landscape. Unfortunately, the veil of time still hides the identity of those who brought the cultivation of the vine to the Alentejo. Neither can we accurately identify when it happened. What is known, however, is that when the Romans arrived in the south of Portugal, vine growing and wine making were already a vital part of the customs and traditions of the local population. It is suspected that the Tartessians, an ancient civilisation based in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and heirs of the Andalusian Megalithic culture, were the first to domesticate the vine and later introduce wine to the Alentejo.
However, it was the Romans, with their farming expertise, who made the cultivation of the vine and the making of wine mainstays of the Alentejo lifestyle.
In fact, historical records strongly suggest that the first Portuguese wines exported to Rome may have come from this region — the Alentejo may very well have been pioneers in the globalisation of Portuguese wine! Roman influence was so critical in the development of Alentejo viticulture that even today, after over two thousand years, signs of their civilisation continue to be seen in day-to-day tasks. The podão, for example, a traditional pruning knife, was widely used until very recently.
However, the most enduring tradition left behind by the Romans, and still an integral part of the Alentejo winemaking process, is that of fermenting must and storing wine in talhas de barro - clay vessels, produced in all shapes and sizes. The Romans introduced the practice into all their territories, but only in the Alentejo has it prevailed. Some of these clay vessels weigh up to a tonne, reach two metres in height, and can store up to 2,000 litres of wine. The porous vessels were treated with pês, a natural pine resin, to prevent leakage, using ancestral methods passed down along successive generations of artisans calledpesgadores, a profession almost extinct now. Each clan of pesgadores had their own secret pês recipe,magic formulas that conferred their own distinctive flavours and characteristics to each talha de barro.
As a result, the wine culture remained almost absent in the southern territories. Only after theLusitanian kingdom was established did the cultivation of vines and the making of wine see a renaissance in the Alentejo, with the blessing of the royal family and the new religious orders. By the sixteenth century, vines flourished as never before in the region with the production of the famous wines of Évora –the wines of Peramanca – as well as the whites from Beja, and the palhetes from Alvito, Viana and Vila de Frades.