Formed in 2004 by Australian winemaker Peter Bright, Terras de Alter is a relatively new producer. Based in Portugal's Alentejo region, the company is best known for producing modern wines from traditional Portuguese grape varieties, which appeal particularly to a European and US audience.
Alentejo is a region in the south of Portugal, with hot, dry summers, and - for the most part - a Mediterranean climate, although the influence of the Atlantic is never too far away. Plentiful sunlight helps the grapes to ripen steadily - an important factor in their quality. Terras de Alter sources grapes from throughout Alentejo (this includes buying grapes from other growers where necessary), which takes advantage of the wide range of soil types found in the region, from granite in the north, through to brown and red soils, and slate further south.
The grapes are mostly successful indigenous varieties such as aragónez (known as tinta roriz in northern Portugal, and tempranillo in Spain), touriga nacional, and trincadeira for the reds, and alvarinho and arinto for the whites. However, the company also uses various international varieties such as petit verdot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and viognier. Perhaps one of the company's most notable choices is the white grape verdelho, which has only been planted in the region as recently as 2001, but is already proving a popular source for the region's light, modern white wines.
Peter Bright - one of the first 'flying winemakers' - moved to Portugal in 1982, and has a wealth of winemaking experience both here and in his native Australia. He was one of those at the forefront of Portugal's move into 21st century winemaking, introducing up-to-date vinification techniques that help to capture fresh, smooth, fruit-driven wines.
As such, the winery is equipped with all the latest technology, including temperature-controlled vats, and the capacity for small-batch fermentation, which allows for more complex blends. Peter uses some French oak for added richness and depth, as well as micro-oxygenation, where necessary, to further soften the wines.
It won't surprise members to learn that Peter and his wines have earned a multitude of awards over the past twenty years.