Controlled fermentation technologies

Apart from a new awareness of indigenous grapevine varieties, one other effect of innovation was that it brought with in new fermentation technology with fermentation at temperatures below 18 C. This technology already existed before the change of government in Portugal in 1974 at JMF Internacional (then under the management of Eng. António Avillez). Massive cooling capacity produced excellent base wines in Pinhal Novo under the direction of an Australian wine maker. These wines were the base wines used by the oldest wine label in the world: Lancers. Because this wine was primarily exported to the new world of wine, had traces of residual sweetness and was a sparkling rosé wine, it was barely noticed by wine aficionados in Portugal. So technology remained faithful to the traditional wine which was fermented at temperatures of over 30C. Traditionalists took a critical stance against this organoleptic reorientation, and frequent mention was made at the time of the falsification of Portuguese wines.

It was both the public wine tastings held by PLANSEL and the University of Évora and, more importantly, JMF’s production of a new, intensely aromatic cold‑­‐fermented white wine by the name of João Pires meeting with enormous success on the domestic market that saw consumer preference change. Tastes shifted in favour of red and white wines produced with the aid of modern fermentation technology – and which had none of the famous suor de carvalho (“sweat of the oak”) about them. More and more new modern wines came on to the market at the end of the 1980s. This was one way to keep foreign wine competition away from the domestic market even after joining the Common Market. One example of good viticultural policy must, however, be mentioned here. During this period the University of Évora (as was the case with almost all other universities in Portugal) was equipped with the latest technology for wine analysis, the standards of courses for aspiring oenologists raised and special training courses conducted for technicians from the private sector. The broad impact of this approach was that in a very short time, the relatively new viticultural region of the Alentejo became the most important region in Portugal as far as producing quality

wine was concerned. Despite covering less than 10% of the land devoted to viticulture in the country, the number of quality wines produced and marketed by the end of the 1990s increased to almost 50% of the national output.


PLANSEL contribution

  • Oenological profiling of grapevine varieties
  • Quality rankings in order to determine reference grapevine varieties