Poco do Lobo Branco 1995
Caves S. Joao, established in 1920, became a dominant force in Portuguese winemaking in the early 20th century with their houses Porta dos Cavaleiros in Dão and Frei Joao in Bairrada. Given the shifting trends in consumer preferences, Bairrada and Dão fell to obscurity in the 1990s when critical influence drove the demand for bigger, extracted, warmer climate wines. As in all things, however, what comes around goes around! Sure enough, 20 years later savvy consumers and food-conscious sommeliers are looking for finesse and freshness and heading back to Bairrada and Dão. In 2013, the Costa family, owners of the estate, decided to open their cellars and offer the old vintages in stock, ranging from 1959 to 2000. Wines that when young had a vegetal character, pronounced tannins and high acidity aged gracefully when kept in perfect condition at the winery for 20-40 years, and are now pristine examples of mature wines with profound finesse and irreplicable complexity. Caves S. Joao is the only winery in Portugal offering library releases of still wines commercially, with vintages going back to the 1950’s.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This is an opportunity to taste a perfectly aged, mature Bairrada white, showcasing the capacity for longevity that this region is known for. A library release from the winery itself, with the bottles kept in pristine condition for decades, these wines show a complexity that cannot be derived in any other way. 100% Arinto, a high-acid varietal well suited to long cellaring.
RATING HISTORY: 1995 90Robert Vernick, 1995 94 W&S "Year's Best Portugal Wines" ; 93 WA
GRAPE: 100% Arinto. Vines planted in 1950. Tended in clay and limestone soil at 50-100 m (164-328 ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Perfect with seafood dishes like cioppino, steamed mussels or clams casino. Roast pork or chicken are also beautiful pairs. Decant briefly prior to serving.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: open top, extended skin fermentation. 24 months on cement tanks, filtered and bottled. Bottles come to us straight from the winery.
PRODUCTION: 3,500 cases (6 pack)
TASTING NOTES: Eye poppingly youthful in all aspects. On the nose, citrus, high toned minerality and stone fruit leap from the glass. Beautiful texture on the palate, with impressively bright acidity. Juicy flavors of lemon curd peach give way to mature floral, mushroom and earth tones. 30 second-plus finish.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold