The ancients called Madxa to Machede, a sacred place for the fertility of their lands. And it was exactly in São Miguel de Machede that Casa Relvas project was born
Casa Agricola Alexandre Relvas was born in 1997, when the family acquired the Herdade de São Miguel, next to São Miguel de Machede, in the Alentejo. In 2001, the first 10 hectares of vineyards were planted and then 25 more, making up the current 35 hectares planted in Herdade de São Miguel.
It was also by this time that the cellar was built right in the centre of the vineyards, fully covered with cork, to reaffirm the pride in Alentejo and its products.
Finally in 2004, the first bottles of Herdade de São Miguel Colheita Selecionada Red arrive on the market.
After twenty years of agricultural activity – where wines have undoubtedly become prominent in Portugal and beyond – the project has changed its identity.
In the new name “Casa Relvas” the family found the best way to express the harmony between the tradition and the modernity of this project, highly inspired by the passion for the land, especially for the wine.
And it really is in the family that everything happens. The brothers Alexandre Jr. and António, sons of Alexandre Relvas. Growing up in the estate, nowadays they run the family business, not only in the wine business but also in the production of olive oil, mainly for export.
The resident winemaker, Nuno Franco, follows the project from the very beginning, fully committed to the whole process from the vineyard to the wine cellar.
Another good example of this connection to the origins are the amphora wines, which revive an almost disused Alentejo tradition. With minimal human intervention, the grapes stay 2 to 3 months to macerate in the big clay pots. Later in November, the pots are opened by the time of São Martinho, giving the motto for a great festivity! The amphoras are coated with laurel, pine resin and bees wax.
ART.TERRA Amphora is the result of this technique: a wine that clearly shows how it is made, through the earthy and clay flavors coming from contact with the amphora but keeping the original fruit aromas of the different white and red varieties.
Much of the production of this winery is entry level and mid range wines. In my opinion, Herdade de São Miguel Colheita Seleccionada white and red, are great wines for daily consumption, quite fruity and balanced that represent well Alentejo region.
But Casa Relvas likes to explore the possibilities of its vineyards and its own terroir, creating special wines.
That’s the case of Pé de Mãe wine. “Pé de Mãe” is the name given to the selected grapevines for vegetative reproduction, the quality of its fruit and adaptation to a certain terroir. Here Trincadeira is very fruity, with good acidity and persistence in the palate.
There is also a special Arinto that they called “Esquecido” (“Forgotten”) because it was left in barrels for a year and a half after the harvest of 2017.
A mistake that resulted in a great wine tasting like plums or mango but keeping the Arinto’s fresh and vegetable notes as well.
What comes to wine tourism, Casa Relvas is also growing! Just 15 minutes away from the center of Évora, in the countryside, the winery welcomes visitors all year round.
Although there are still no organized visits – as winetourism was not foreseen in the initial project – there is always someone available to welcome anyone who wants to know more about this wine project.
I went there and I was very welcomed! Right at the reception I was given a glass with the promise that I would be tasting several wines straight from the barrels 😊
And this experience was actually really fun! Even if the wines were not yet finished, still ageing, I learned a lot. I loved to taste this special nectar in its different stages of winemaking, since the grape turns into juice and that juice becomes wine.
That’s what you can expect too, on a visit to the proudly “alentejana” Casa Relvas!