Wine making is a delicate process. As grapes journey from vine to glass their flavor can be drastically altered by a number of factors. Soil, location, climate, the vintners' process, aging methods, and even how you drink it all affect a person's interaction with the final product. Like any winery worth their salt, Adega Ervideira knows the process, yet decided to follow its own path, turning wine-production on its head. Forget everything you know about traditional aging in oak barrels. Forget letting the wine aerate in steel. This unique Portuguese winery ages their wine at the bottom of Europe’s largest man-made lake.
About the Vineyard
family-owned and operated business is located in the sun-baked, coastal province of
Alentejo where cork trees, vineyards and wheat fields are commonplace and the ancient
whitewashed villages perched atop low-lying hills are a delightful distraction.
vineyards have been in the family since Count Ervideira started making wine
in the 1880s. Almost 150 years later, the Leal da Costa family is still
intricately involved in day-to-day production: including the
decision to create the new “Vinho de Agua.” Literally translated to “wine water.”
In June and October 2015, wine that had aged for eight months in oak barrels was removed, poured into glass bottles, sealed and placed in nondescript gray crates. With the help of a tractor, a boat, and several cables, the crates were lowered 100 feet down into nearby Largo Grande. Formed in 2002, farmers often use its waters to sustain their crops. The Deal la Costas decided to use the water for a vastly different purpose.
For eight months, 30,000 bottles of Vinho de Agua lay undisturbed on the floor of the lake. The divers who helped retrieve the crates at the end of the allotted time were greeted by a beverage tasting vastly different than the one aged above water in usual fashion.
Those who’ve tasted the wines side-by-side claim the wine aged under normal circumstances tastes young and fruity while the Vinho de Agua, gives the appearance of being aged for several years instead of several months.
Experts argue whether to attribute the monumental difference to the consistent and extensive water pressure or if the wine experiences a phenomenon similar to a diver getting the bends after rising to the water’s surface too rapidly.
Try it Yourself
If you’re intrigued by the Leal de Costa’s innovative production methods, their are several opportunities to sample the goods for yourself. Eventually, Vinho de Agua will be available around the world, but currently you can find water wine in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Switzerland.
Or perhaps a trip to the province of Alentejo is in order. The winery is conveniently located 30 minutes southeast of Evora, a popular tourist destination, and offers personalized tours as well as a free wine tasting. If you’re crunched for time and can’t make the side trip out to where Vinho de Agua began, stop by the wine shops in the neighboring villages of Monsaraz, Albufeira and Evora.