Caves Sao Joao Tinto Reserva Particular
Caves Sao Joao was begun in 1920 as a Port house. When the laws changed, restricting the geography from which Port could be made, the Costa family decided to make sparkling wine, and quickly established themselves as the preeminent producer of bubbles in Portugal. As time went on, they eventually branched out into still wine production in both the Dao and Bairrada. While they have wineries that make wine exclusively from each of these DOs, the original Caves Sao Joao makes wine as a blend from the two, following the age old tradition in the region – Bairrada lending acid and punch, Dao giving mellower fruit and a more delicate character. This Tinto hearkens back to this old style of winemaking, utilizing the best characteristics of the two DOs to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Only made in the best vintages and from the best fruit they have available to them from their growers, this blend is a testament to the confluence of power and elegance that wines from this part of Portugal show.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Mature, impeccably aged blend from two very different DOs. S. Joao’s long-standing history with the growers in this region assures that they have access to the very best fruit – and this wine is only made in the very best vintages. A 25 year old wine that still has many years of longevity in front of it.
RATING HISTORY: 1990 92View from the Cellar, 1990 92 W&S
GRAPE: 25% Baga, 25% Alfrocheiro, 25% Jaen (Mencia), 20% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), 5% Camarate. Vines planted in clay soil at 75 m (246 ft) elevation.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: Simply prepared fish and poutry dishes; mild, creamy cheeses; roasted mushrooms
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Open top fermentation with extended macerations. 24 months aging in cement tanks before being filtered and bottled.
PRODUCTION: 800 cs (6 pack)
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards in the Dão have one of the best microclimates for viticulture in all of Portugal. Warm and dry throughout the first part of the growing season, the late summer grows rapidly cooler, which allows for slower maturation of fruit and longer hangtime. The vineyards are between 400 and 800m of elevation high in the hills, and are planted on decomposed schist and granite, giving the wines hallmark acidity and minerality. The vineyards in Bairrada are planted in a place literally translated from Portuguese as “place of clay.” Bairrada has a mild, maritime climate with abundant rainfall, which can make the rot-prone Baga a difficult variety to grow, but also what gives the wines the acidity to age so well.
TASTING NOTES: Dark purple-garnet. Aromas of leather, pipe tobacco, dried flowers and spices, dried and stewed cherries. On the palate, this is very Nebbiolo-like – well structured and high acid, with dried and fresh red fruit leading to saddle leather and rose petals on a dry finish. Decant for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold