José de Sousa Mayor Red

Having 1940 as our benchmark, we decided in 1986 to follow the traditional wine making techniques of the area. We selected Trincadeira, Aragonez and Grand Noir varieties as the best Alentejo red grapes to be hand-picked when perfect maturation conditions were achieved, and then fermented the grapes in clay pots and open “lagares”.


The purchase of Casa Agricola José de Sousa Rosado Fernandes in 1986 saw a long-held dream become reality for José Maria da Fonseca: to produce Alentejo wine using traditional winemaking methods from an estate with history and prestige. This property won on both counts, having produced wine since at least 1878 and having one absolutely legendary vintage – the José de Sousa 1940.

The Monte da Ribeira estate that contains the vineyard lies alongside the road into Monsaraz and has an area of 120 hectares, of which 72 are planted with vines. The vines have always been grown in granite-based soil with excellent exposure to the sun; some were even planted by the hand of José de Sousa himself, particularly in the early 1950s when he concentrated on red grape varieties like Trincadeira, Aragonez and Grand Noir. We started replanting the vineyard in 1988 and completed the task at the end of the 1990s.

José de Sousa Mayor is the estate’s premium wine, and its concept and style aims to reproduce the key features of the famous 1940 vintage. If this is in itself a superb challenge the fact that conditions are such that the estate can produce José de Sousa Mayor virtually every year makes it a true quest.

The Winery

The winery stands in the centre of the small town of Reguengos de Monsaraz, located in the heart of the Alentejo province in southern Portugal. It combines tradition and history with state-of the-art technology, and it’s the exact blend of old and new – a constant in the long history of José Maria da Fonseca – that makes José de Sousa so sublime, a blend of skilled craftsmanship and modernity.
Thus, you will encounter a traditional winery (built below ground level to maintain cool temperatures year-round), with two lagares (open tanks) for treading the grapes and 114 clay amphorae for fermentation, and a modern winery equipped with 44 stainless steel tanks and technology for the making of red wine.

The Winemaker

Domingos Soares Franco, Winemaker and Vice President, studied viticulture and oenology in Davis, California. After graduation he joined the company in the 1980s and, being one of the most innovative of the new generation of Portuguese winemakers, brought significant changes to the style of his wines.


2007 Wine – 17 points
2004 Wine – 17 points
2001 Wine Enthusiast – 91 points
1999 Revista de Vinhos – 18 points
1997 Revista de Vinhos – 18,5 points

Vintage Information

Classification: Vinho Regional Alentejano
Region: Alentejo
Grape Varieties: Grand Noir (44%), Trincadeira (30%) and Aragonez (26%)
Vineyard Area: 2.9 ha
Type of Soil: Granitic
Wine Production: 6.100 litres

Tasting Notes

Colour: Ruby with brownish tint.
Aroma: Spicy, tobacco leaves, dates.
Palate: Fruity, complex, balanced, persistent, with soft tannins and with oak well integrated
Final Palate: Long

Vinification: Part of the clusters are destemned by hand. The grapes are delivered into the winery in 20kg plastic boxes and part is transferred into 3 tons open tops where they are foot
trodden and fermented. The other part is fermented in large clay pots (1.500 litres) for about 10 days, followed by two weeks with skin contact.

Ageing: The wine was transferred directly into new French oak casks for 10 months. It was bottled without any filtration or cold stabilisation.

Date of Bottling: April 2010


Alcohol: 13.2%
Total Acidity: 5,4 gr/l as tartaric acid
pH: 3.6

Serving suggestions: Should be served at a temperature of 16/18ºC, after having been decanted, with game and cheese.
This wine may throw sediment with age.

Storage: The bottles should be laid down at a temperature of 12oC and 60% of humidity.

Shelf life: 9 years after bottling

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Vinhos do Alentejo 2019