We are pleased to introduce wines from Fitapreta Vinhos, from the Alentejo region in southern Portugal. The leader and winemaker of Fitapreta, Antonio Macanita, is one of the most sought-after wine professionals in Portugal. We asked Takenori Beppu, a leading Portuguese wine expert in Japan, to guide us through the unique features and emerging trends of Portuguese wine market.There is a lot of energy in the Portuguese wine scene right now. Emerging producers are utilizing the tradition of indigenous varietals, mixed varietal field plantings, extended aging, and ‘talhas’ (clay pot amphoras), while embracing modern philosophies like sustainability and low intervention. But a cut above the rest, is Antonio Macanita. He has won both a ‘Uniqueness Award’ from Grandes Escolha wine magazine and ‘Winemaker of the Year’ from Revista de Vinhos magazine in 2018, and is one of the most sought-after winemakers in Portugal.Panoramic view of the Fitapreta winery◆ Major changes in old-fashioned production regionsAlentejo is located in southern Portugal. The hot, dry, hills are dotted with vineyards, as well as wheat, olive and cork fields. The region has a long history of winemaking predating Christianity, and the tradition of amphora wine (called Vigno de Talha in Portugal) is one of the oldest in the world, second only to Georgia. It is a well-established wine region associated with indigenous varietals such as Aragonés (Tempranillo), Trincadeira and Roupeiro.However, Alentejo’s wine industry hasn’t been prosperous in the recent past. Government policy established in the early 20th century forced the region to switch from grapes to grains production, and wine production was greatly reduced. After overthrowing the autocratic regime in 1974, Portugal joined the European Community (now EU) in 1986, and most wineries focused on growing international varietals such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon for export. They made powerful, high-alcohol wines that were popular with the masses, and because of the region’s proximity to Lisbon (the capital), also continued to produce low-priced wines for daily consumption.Only since the beginning of the 21st century, has a meaningful change started to take place. As is the case in other countries, the making of heavy, Robert Parker-favoured wines, came to an end. Subsequently, the era of respecting the individuality of each country, region and producer began. There was a move back from global to indigenous varietals, and from vinification in new barrels to concrete tanks and amphoras. The natural wine movement spread, and different approaches were trialled to explore wine expressions.Even within Alentejo, the focus shifted to relatively cool sub-regions that could produce wines with high acidity, such as the high-altitude Portalegre in the north and the maritime-influenced Vidigueira in the south. The French-born varietal, Alicante Bouschet, which retains higher acidity and adapts well to the hot, dry climate of Alentejo, attracted interest. This varietal, which is only used for house wines elsewhere in the world, became widely-known for making beautiful wines in Alentejo, and became a varietal to represent the region. In the midst of the return to tradition, amphora wines were again recognized, and the world's first designation of origin for amphora wines, DOC Vigno de Talha, was created.Fitapreta Cellar◆ Antonio and Fitapreta unlock the potential of AlentejoAntonio Macanita, who was born in 1981, took Alentejo to another level. Internationally trained at wineries like Rudd Estate in Napa Valley and d’Arenberg in Australia, before returning to Por tugal to begin his winemaking career, Antonio’s philosophy is clear ‒ respect the regional traditions, and support it with a scientifically proven modern wine making techniques, where it adds to the quality of the wine.Fitapreta teamAt Fitapreta, Antonio actively utilizes once-important, now-forgotten indigenous grape varietals like Trincadeira-das-Pratas, Tinta Carvalha, Castelao, and so on. He produces fantastic wines from mixed varietal vineyards in the region, of which there are only few left. He was also an early adopter of amphora wines, and these were highly praised.But he is not blindly returning to the past. Fitapreta’s winer y is completely gravity flow. The whites are mostly whole bunch pressed, and the fruit is hand-picked at night to avoid daytime heat. While fermentation is primarily with indigenous yeast, the flavours are pristine. The resulting wines have clarit y with no over-ripe nuances, and oak is used with precision. The essence of Fitapreta is a modern revival based on Alentejo tradition. Antonio isn’t just touting traditions like varietals and amphoras, but uses them to elevate wines to a high-quality that impresses everyone who drinks them. This is what makes his wines truly unique.Under Antonio’s leadership, Fitapreta won the ‘Winery of the Year 2020’ from Revista de Vinhos, Portugal’s leading wine magazine, and has become one of Portugal’s leading producers. When I interviewed him, he talked passionately about winemaking and the region. He then took a brief moment to laugh about how he can’t stop talking, then carried on talking more. With each word, with new ideas, insight s and information emerging - the hallmark of a great winemaker. I’d like you to discover how wonderful Portuguese wine is by drinking some of his wines. In the Alentejo region he has awakened a sleeping giant.Takenori BeppuRepresentative of Wine in MotionJ.S.A. sommelier, WSET-certified Diploma. After working in a restaurant, for a wineimporter, and in wine stores, he became an independent consultant and a wine instructorat seminars for producer groups in different countries. Vini Portugal (Wines of Portugal)International Personality of the Year 2018 for Asia, Knight of the Brotherhood of Port Wine.