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.
This is an opportunity to taste a perfectly aged Portuguese red, showcasing the capacity for longevity that these regions are 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.
Caution opening the cork – it requires a slow and careful hand!
Once opened, allow a little time in a decanter. The wine begins its journey as pretty austere in the mouth this 50:50 Bairrada:Dão blend of Baga and Touriga Nacional (perhaps others) but builds with time in glass. It shows dried fig, orange peel and spicy panforte fruit with dark chocolate, sweet woodsmoke and earthier summer truffle notes. Rustic tannins add to its broadness, which are supported by a fresh breeze from the acidity.
Fab with a rustic game casserole, risotto milanese (parmesan) or shaved truffle tagliolini