It was in the Alentejo that the Reynolds family found the right place to develop the cork and wine business. Today, The Herdade do Mouchão is one of the most emblematic properties at the national level.
Associated with our country since the mid-18th century, the Reynolds family - English maidstone and chatham dealers - bought and sold various types of products, including wines, fruits, woods, wool, wheat, salt and cork.
It was between 1824 and 1826 that Thomas Reynolds and his wife, Marion Hunter, will have come to Portugal, first to the city of Porto, and only later to the Alentejo. This trip was the result of a partnership between Thomas and a brother-in-law, Scottish businessman, he also wine dealer.
The family is growing and business has been developing over the decades. It will have been one of his descendants, John Reynolds, who acquires the Estate of Mouchão. However, family documents reveal that previously there was already a long-term rental contract for cork oak mounts. With regard to wine, the winery was built in 1901.
By way of marriage, John Reynolds also owned Quinta do Carmo, situated a few kilometers from Estremoz, investing largely in the vineyard, as he did in Mouchão. The waxings of Alicante Bouschet, at the time an innovation, were used exclusively in these two Alentejo properties, with old invoices proving that Mouchão sent wine to be bottled in Quinta do Carmo.
Mouchão is later inherited by Albert Reynolds, his brother, who officially bottled wine for the first time in 1954 (although in 1949 it has already bottled, on an experimental basis)
Lawyer by profession, Albert Hugh shared his time between a busy and promising career in Lisbon and the vineyards of Mouchão. At the time, the typically Alentejo house was only used to spend seasons, especially in the hunting season, when it liked to welcome friends. But the wine was never neglected. Always attentive to what was happening in Mouchão, where he moved frequently, he was a man who perceived the vineyard and was demanding about the quality of the wines produced there.
His cult, distinguished and generous side was appreciated by all. One of his oldest employees, the adperjoão Piteira, better known as João Alabaça, was his great companion. Of medium stature and robust body, it was his right arm, the man in whom he placed all confidence. He was only fourteen years old when he started working on the property and inherited his father's place, which he worked there with the same function. Today it is his son João Manuel who, since 1996, has run the cellar.
A desirable wine
Despite the large investment made in the property, Albert felt that the wine did not yield the expected profits. He then decided to keep it for about three or four years in barrels, and only then bottle it so he could sell it a little more expensive. The measure could not have been more right. The secret was 'wait for wine to get greater consistency and character'. Once the formula of success was discovered, the strategy was immediately adopted for future wines.
After the April 1974 revolution, the following year was turbulent, marked by the agrarian reform movement. After Easter 1975, the Herdade do Mouchão was occupied by rural workers. Stripped of his land, Albert asked the hillside João Piteira to remain in his post, in order to control the precious quality of the wine. The occupation was not violent. The men continued to work the land, continued to produce wine, and that's how the Cooperative 25 april Mouchão and Annexes emerged. A difficult time where much of the wine stored was sold at the cheap, except albert's private wine cellar, which the adegueiro protected honorably.
The recovery of the property takes place in 1984, the year in which the wine D. Rafael is launched, in honor of Albert's father. Under the influence of Martin (Albert's eldest son), d. Cristina wine is also begun to bottle d. Cristina wine in honor of his grandmother. The latter has only been in law for three or four years, no longer being produced due to some lack of consistency.
After Albert's death in 1986, Mouchão is awarded shares in favor of daughters Ann and Elizabeth. While the youngest daughter easily adapted to the good airs of the camp, living in Mouchão since 1997, Ann preferred to sell her share to her sister and, in 2000, left for England.
Elizabeth, or 'D. Babete', as he is affectionately named by Mouchão's employees, married The Scotsman Iain Richardson, also he a lover of wine and property, of which he was manager for several years. Currently, who is at the head of Mouchão's management is his son, with the same name as his father, Iain Richardson.
The grape variety that marks t
he differenceThe difference in the wines of The Herdade do Mouchão is defined through the Alicante Bouschet variety, a very own 'terroir' and proper traditional winemaking.
Loved by some and hated by others, this caste, of French origin, is the most publicized tintureira variety in the world. It is the result of the studies carried out by Louis Bouschet Bernard who, in 1824, decided to cross several varieties that gave rise to varieties capable of making deep-colored wines and higher productions, supplanting the tintams so far existing. The Petit Bouschet caste stands out from these experiences, resulting from a cross between Aramon and Tenturier du Cher. Later, between 1865 and 1885, Henry – son of Louis Bouschet – crossed the Petit Bouschet with the popular Grenache, giving rise to a new tintureira, which he appointed by Alicante Bouschet.
The success of this variety was immediate and this was directly related to the intense color of the wines it originated and the high productive capacity. Alicante Bouschet sticks began to be ordered in the most varied wine zones around the world, such as in California, where it became very popular during the time of prohibition. In the early 1960s, it was already the fourth most widely used ink variety in the world, in terms of planted area, although in 1982 a reduction of 2,656 hectares to have placed practically on the tail of the list.
The wines obtained from this variety always appear to be described as having poor character and personality, poorly structured and with deep color, although for short periods. A fact that is in accordance with what many authors refer to tintureira varieties, considered only a complement of adding color to younger wines, without great qualitative expression. It seems strange, after all this description, as can the Alicante Bouschet variety have assumed such great prominence in differentiating the wines of The Estate of Mouchão.
The behavior of castes is very conditioned by a set of factors that determine their qualitative and quantitative production, integrated into elements such as soil, water availability, temperatures, the number of hours of sunshine, among other factors . In the weather conditions of the transtagane region, with cold winters and hot and dry summers, the grape variety has an early folding. When planted in the proper soil, deep soils, with some nutritional richness and water availability throughout the cycle – contrary to what happens in most vineyards – Alicante Bouschet shows a trend towards a longer cycle, capable of leading to production of grapes that originate wines from high alcoholic graduations, high concentration of tannins, good balance of acidity and enormous aging capacity. All this combined with a deep and intense color, which remains lasting.
We therefore emerge a modified Alicante Bouschet, capable of becoming an important complement to the quality of wines in the Alentejo region, where it is widely used in percentages that, as a general rule, are between five and thirty percent, despite the unbelief of many foreign technicians, especially French. At The Estate of Mouchão, dependence on this grape variety is even greater, since it currently accounts for about seventy percent of the total painted varieties implanted, unquestionably marking the personality of its wines. In addition, the influence of the place where the vineyards grow accentuates and differentiates the caste profile.
A terroir that imposes the distinction
The Herdade do Mouchão has several distinct vineyards, totaling 38 hectares: Vinha dos Carrapetos, Vinha da Barragda, Vinha do Mouchão Velho, Vinha da Adega and Vinha da Dourada. It is in the first, the largest, that the Mouchão wines originate. It is about one to two meters below the normal level of the estate soils and its vine feet grow along a very elongated alluvial valley, protected in the side zones by a kind of natural slopes. This topography creates a distinct climacteric zone that conditions the development of plants and the maturation of grapes. Warmer cooler and late afternoon mornings create throughout the maturation qualitative development conditions of the variety.
The alluvial soils of this floodplain generate more attractive nutritional conditions for a good development of Alicante Bouchet, which does not like poor soils. On the horizon line, there also finda relatively high clay concentration that allows water retention and availability throughout the cycle, making unnecessary any irrigation system (all other vineyards of The Mouchão Herdade are irrigated). All this, combined with a set of hours of high sunshine, makes the Alicante Bouschet produced in these conditions unique.
In Mouchão, the watchword is the preservation of traditional winemaking techniques. Without any desengace, the grapes are fermented in mills and stepped on foot. After a period of four to six days, the wine is transferred to large barrels – which hold between two thousand and five hundred to five thousand liters – where they will begin their maturation. These many-year-old barrels are carefully preserved to continue to perform their function. Made of oak, mahogany and macacauba, they are not intended to give the wines a wooden character, but to allow tannins to evolve slowly, making wines smoother and more elegant.
The Mouchões rest on these barrels for two years, until they reach a balance that allows their traffic jam, then waiting two more years in bottle to reveal themselves. They are wines of different characteristics and you have to have time and patience, so that they can emerge balanced and elegant.
Deep in color, a characteristic that has maintained over the years, initially exhibit an aroma where notes of eucalyptus, mint and peppermint are distinguished, mixed with black fruit jams, then evolving into complexity and concentration over the years. In the mouth are soft, very fresh, and the striking structure is based on tannins, wide and rough, which give it a long persistence and ensure a huge aging capacity.