All Mouchão grapes are hand-picked. In the vineyards teams of pickers select the grapes into trays which are transported to the winery within the hour where they undergo further manual selection.
White grapes arriving at the Adega.
Two of the four manually-operated, century old basket presses still used today (photograph taken in 1954)
Once in the lagares, the large stone treading tanks, the grapes are foot trodden twice a day until fermentation is complete – roughly 5 to 8 days – before being pumped into one of the many tonéis, the huge wooden vats, where they undergo malolactic fermentation before the onset of winter.
Two or three decades ago, it was normal to begin picking in mid-to-late September. Finishing harvest in October was the norm. Harvesting in recent years has started as early as mid-August. Climate change is largely to blame, but reducing crop load has also helped advance picking dates.
Drained must ready for pressing.
At Mouchão stems are included during fermentation. Besides sugar and acid content, stem maturity is critical. If too green, these can mark the wine significantly. The red musts are pressed in manual basket presses, producing low yields of the highest quality. Under ideal Alentejo growing conditions musts will be high in tannin, deeply pigmented, relatively high in alcohol, show balanced acidity and be devoid of vegetal characters.