HERDADE DA MALHADINHA NOVA A PARADISE IN THE ALENTEJO
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova, located in Albernoa, Beja, in the Alentejo, is a dream come true for the Soares family. The estate covers a total of 450 hectares with five accommodation units and a sixth five kilometres away in the village. In total, adding together the various houses and villas restored by the family from ruins, the estate currently has 30 rooms. Vines spread across a total of 80 hectares, there is a winery built on a slope, so that when the grapes are delivered they benefit from the effects of gravity, where Monte da Peceguina, Malhadinha and limited editions are produced, and olive groves, orchards and vegetable gardens. In the new stud farm, built in 2020, the Pure Blood Lusitano horses are given the best care possible, while Alentejana cows, Iberian black pigs and black and white Merino sheep wander at will in the cork-oak woods. At the restaurant, where Joachim Koerper provides advice, the flavours of the Alentejo come together on the plate, combining organic produce and meat from livestock with protected designation of origin. These are the natural elements that comprise the bouquet of flowers that is Malhadinha, a unique family project that has grown, matured and blossomed over the last 20 years. In August 2020, Malhadinha Nova became a Relais&Châteuax member.
The whole thing began with the original house in 2008, on a traditional Alentejo-style cork estate with seven hectares of vines at their feet. Over 750 m2, the three suites (45m2) and seven rooms (32m2) are all different, starting with the design of their doors, penned by the Soares family’s youngest generation. This touch of personality is already a tradition that began with the wine labels.
The interiors are personalised, with refinement and charm being the word. Duravitt bathroom fixtures, Philippe Starck lighting, Bvlgari toiletries, iPads, Bose sound systems and underfloor heating cohabit with the simplicity and beauty of various pieces created by the hands of local artisans.
Two pools (one heated), a spa with a massage room, a steam bath and jacuzzi, a lounge, a library, a wine bar and porches and terraces to immerse yourself in the stunning vineyard surroundings complete a picture painted in tones of luxury and authenticity.
In 2018, work began on expanding the tourism facilities, which opened to the public in February of this year. It was the perfect time to renovate this original decade-old house with new items and a refreshed colour palette. Breakfast is now served here on a set of mythical Christofle silver-plated tableware after years of searching for one by Rita Soares.
Casa do Ancoradouro
Home of Terracotta
Located at the highest point of the estate, Casa do Ancoradouro (Mooring House) is inspired by Alentejo architecture and surrounded by clayey soils where Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Franca grape varieties are planted. It is this popular red clay that is used to make the interior and exterior floors of handmade red bricks cooked in oak-fired ovens. The whole decor is an ode to terracotta, whose texture can be felt on your bare feet as you walk around the 880 square metres.
The house consists of seven 90m2 suites with a private terrace, exterior area with an ample view of the Alentejo plain, pool, kitchen, library, wine bar, lounge with a fireplace, underfloor heating and a games room with a snooker table, table tennis table and table football. Based around the copper-coloured clay, Rita Soares has filled the house with historical and contemporary objects that create an unrivalled collection of museum pieces.
Visible at the entrance is the comfortable Living Divani Extrasoft settee, the Italian brand’s most coveted model, over which hangs a Heracleum lamp by designer Marcel Wanders, a detail not missed by Rita, as these flowers sprout spontaneously in the Alentejo. In front of the wine bar, a classic Steinway & Sons piano that is over 100 years old is accompanied by a restored conservatory cabinet where the sheets of music are kept.
There is restored antique furniture scattered all around the house, the result of countless trips to antiques shops and research, Rita Soares’ great passion. One such example are the welsh dressers displaying the terracotta Vista Alegre table service – exclusive to Malhadinha – as well as pieces by the ceramicist Teresa Pavão inspired by the four elements. Everywhere you look, there are restored and painted Portuguese pieces in terracotta tones, such as magazine racks, stools and olive oil jars.
Casa da Ribeira
Slow living villa
Ribeira de Terges is a once-navigable tributary of the River Guadiana. This is where, close by, Casa da Ribeira (River House) – inspired by the water and its tranquillity, the peace and serenity – was erected.
Water is one of nature’s key elements and essential to many of the things that go on around the estate, from winemaking to agriculture. And it the inspiration behind the house’s colour palette – ranging from pale blue to blueish grey.
The three 75m2 suites with a private terrace mix pieces by international designers and architects with Portuguese brands and antiques. The centenarian pharmacy cabinets, which have been converted into cupboards and bookshelves, are a good example.
A Moooi Perch Lamp by British designer Umut Yamac stands out in the kitchen and lounge area.
The furniture selected by Rita for this house includes two iconic brands from the past that have been brought back to life with a more modern twist. One is Olaio, represented here in the sideboards and filing cabinets, and Thonet, which has reintroduced the eminent white chairs designed by the German creator and industrialist Michael Thonet in 1830 but in a more contemporary style.
Casa das Pedras
Unlike the other accommodation on the estate, these suites have no common areas. They are cosy and reserved, each with its own private terrace and pool and a predominance of linen and telluric tones. These four exclusive contemporary-designed suites are close to the main house, Malhadinha Country-House, but far enough away for a hideaway. They are also surrounded by Peceguina vines and overlook Ribeira de Terges. Built of concrete and painted a golden straw colour, each fits a generous bedroom into its 100m2 with a stunning view of the countryside and a lounge where an excellent selection of music echoes as you arrive.
Minimalist in construction and decor, they offer moments of communion with nature. These houses were built on a ruin that stood on a schist elevation. The architect’s aim was to find a clay pigment that could reproduce the tone that surrounds the buildi
The style is more contemporary than the other houses, with a focus on design evident in the predominance of timeless pieces found in the world’s best museums. Carl Hansen & Søn chairs, a Flos Captain Flint Lamp and the Alvar Aalto coat rack for Artek are just some examples of the iconic pieces that coexist with Portuguese sideboards by Much Wood, linen tunics by Belgium’s Harmony Textile and stripped down bathtubs by Italy’s Agape.
Casa das Artes e Ofícios
A villa inspired by art
The Casa das Artes e Ofícios (Arts and Crafts House) is another treasure in the Malhadinha Collection. It is also very close to Ribeira de Terges, on which inhabitants of Albernoa used to bring provisions to the village. The ruin this historic house is erected on what was once a communal area, where villagers would bake bread and wash their clothes in the cool water.
The decor, for this reason, is inspired by these stories and experiences. The villa has two 25m2 bedrooms on a mezzanine floor above a spacious living room with an impressively high ceiling. Rita Soares wanted this house to celebrate the local artisans, and their ancestral manual techniques, and also the surrounding landscape, where the greens of the vegetation stand out. The walls are clad in clay with a natural olive green pigment applied by Matteo Brioni, an Italian who inherited his father’s clay factory, combining tradition with modernity
The furniture is mostly from the Alentejo and includes pieces, both traditional and more modern, by local artisans. The Achigãs (Largemouth Bass) lamps are a good example, a challenge Rita Soares set the TASA Project.
Divulging this heritage and the social component inherent to this House does not end there. Part of the profits from the sale of the Vista Alegre table service selected for this Villa goes to reforesting the Amazon. There are paintings by Cláudia Sampaio on the walls and ceramics by Anabela Soares on the shelves, two artists who are part of the Manicómio project created by Sandro Resende and José Azevedo after working with people suffering from mental illness for several years. On the dining table is a lamp made of plastic bottles removed from the ocean, reminding us of the urgent need to address climate change.
Olaio objects, an old oil-powered fridge restored by Muito Muito at LX Factory, popular pieces by the brand Vitra, Agape bathtubs in the middle of the bedrooms… these are just some of the gems that make the Casa das Artes e Ofícios a villa inspired by art.
A home in the village
Lastly, a visit to the town of Albernoa and Venda Grande. This house with four 40m2 bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a lounge is ideal for those who want to enjoy village life, given that it is more rural and basic and 5 km away from the estate. The name represents its former purpose selling various foodstuffs, hats and toiletries.
Venda Grande is located in Largo Catarina Eufémia, the square named after the brave reaper shot dead by the National Republican Guard in 1954 while protesting for better working conditions. She was eternalised as an icon of the resistance against Salazar’s regime, referred to in dozens of poems over the decades by Sophia de Mello Breyner, Ary dos Santos and Vicente Campinas, whose words were put to music by Zeca Afonso in 1971.
During its restoration, some of the original details were kept, such as the magnificent hydraulic floors in the kitchens and bathrooms, traditional hardwood shutters and antique pieces – an upright piano and cream-coloured wood burner.
Malhadinha’s culinary concept is based around signature cooking and the use of the local organic produce from the estate itself – from the fields, vineyard, olive grove and animal pastures.
The restaurant opened in 2007, joined later by consultant chef Joachim Koerper, who was always Rita Soares’ first choice for the project. Rita had followed the chef’s career for many years and invited him in 2003 to prepare a special lunch amid Malhadinha’s vines. Since then, the German chef, with a long career in Michelin-starred restaurants, and current owner and chef of Eleven in Lisbon, has been responsible for creating the menus for the restaurant. The kitchen is run on a daily basis by resident chef Rodrigo Madeira and Vitalina Santos, who handles the traditional regional recipes.
Vines and Wines
In 2001, the first 20 hectares were planted. As an inherently family project, it was the children – Francisca, who was born in 1998 – who had the honour of planting the first vinestock and designing the first label. This tradition is still intact to this day and, accordingly, all of the wines are baptised by whoever designs the label. This was just the starting point for a vineyard which currently extends to 80 hectares.
The grape varieties planted were chosen for their small-scale production and to convey a perception similar to other international winegrowing regions known for their quality. The red grape varieties are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Miúda, Trincadeira, Aragonês, Alicante Boushet, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Baga, while the whites are Antão Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro, Chardonnay, Verdelho, Viognier, Petit Manseng, Alvarinho, Encruzado and Viosinho.
Monte da Peceguina red, white and rosé and Malhadinha red, white and rosé are the brand’s cornerstones. The first are crisper, the latter more complex, and aged in French oak barrels. Then there are the mono-varietals, produced in the years when nature permits: Aragonez and Touriga Nacional, for the reds, and Antão Vaz, Verdelho and Arinto, for the whites. Lastly, the special editions, which are only sold when the harvest is excellent: Pequeno João, Menino António and MM Malhadinha, and Marias da Malhadinha, the top of the range.
Farming on the estate is organic, sustainable and extensive. Environmental sustainability, which extends to the social and economic sphere, underlies the planting of the vines and is the top priority. They must be rooted in the terroir, and they must respect and be integrated into the ecosystem and the biodiversity.
HERDADE DA MALHADINHA NOVA
7800-601 Albernoa Beja - Portugal
HOTEL +351 284 965 432 / 429
WINERY +351 284 965 210 / 211
RESTAURANT +351 284 965 210 / 211
GPS 37° 49’ 50.60”N, 7° 59’ 20.91” W