Tag Archives: Lisboa

Two Portuguese wines at Tati, Lisboa

Back on the Café Tati, near the entrance of the Lisboa river market. (See another report here.) This is a small, not too easy to find, bar with lovely natural wines to wash down the tasty, small bites. This evening there were no live music, so we had to do with Duke Ellington and Van Morrison on the sound system.

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Coming directly from Bairrada it would have been be nice to continue with, say Tiago Teles’ wonderful wine, that he makes in the bigger producer Campolargo’s winery. But there is always something good served by the glass too, so I went for Humus white from the Lisboa region and the Rufia! red from Bairrada’s inland neighbour Dão.

The Humus wines have their origin one hour north of Lisboa, near Óbidos by the Atlantic. It’s an area with cooling sea breezes and high humidity. This ensures a longer maturing period and a good acidity level.

Rodrigo Filipe makes minimalist intervention wines from organic fruit from his family’s 5 hectar estate. He does a direct pressing for the white. Nothing is added to the wine, except maybe a small amount of SO2. All the wines are bottled without any finning or filtration.

Up in Dão João Tavares de Pina is the man behind the Rufia wines. They are made from a 500-550m vineyard in Penelva do Castelo on granite, schist and clay soils.

It’s a low sulphur, low extract, low oak wine. The grapes are jaen, touriga nacional and rufete. He normally ferments the varieties together in open stainless steel lagares without temperature control.  Ageing is done in stainless steel tank for some 9 months on lees, and on to more than 10 years old barrels after malo-lactic.

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Humus Branco 2015 (Quinta do Paço, Encostas da Quinta)

Deep yellow. Aromas of orange peel, citrus, melon, chalky minerals. Full yet fresh on the palate, with a chalky minerality.

Rufia! Tinto 2014 (J. Tavares da Pina, Quinta da Boavista)

Dark ruby red. Lovely fruit, cherry, raspberry. Fresh and juicy in the mouth, round tannins and a good level of acidity.

Riesling surprise

It was a surprise for several people in a recent tasting. Nevertheless, the Quinta Sant’Ana of Mafra, Lisboa has many times demonstrated its ability to make good wines in a sustainable manner.

As stated a few times, I really do appreciate the Lisboa region. It’s not among the most dramatic of wine countries, neither in landscape nor temperatures, but there are myriads of micro-climates, and often within very short distances.

At Sant’Ana, around 100 meters above sea level and only 12 km from the sea, there is a strong Atlantic influence. The quinta has steep slopes and calcareous clay soils. Typically here are cool nights and cloudy, misty mornings, but in the afternoon the sun shines through.

antonio_q-santana  António Moita Maçanita, winemaker

Their winemaker has experience from Napa and Australia, as well as a period at Lynch Bages in Bordeaux. Back in Portugal he was consulting for several wineries while he was all the time exploring the local terroirs.

Earlier ampelographers linked the albariño/alvarinho to riesling, suggesting that the pilgrims could have brought it to the Iberian peninsula on their way to Compostela. While this has proved to be wrong this wine could well be heading a new caste of Atlantic rieslings, with a blend of the German steeliness and the richer Atlantic fruit.

The grapes for this wine were grown close to the doorstep of the quinta house. The coastal humidity made some botrytis appear on the grapes. There was a light pressing of whole bunches, and the must fermented in steel vats at low temperatures utilizing a technique with oxidised must.
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Riesling 2013 (Quinta Sant’Ana)
Light yellow with a greenish hue. Aromas of mature apple, citrus (lemon and grapefruit), some stone-minerals. Good concentration, somewhat oily texture, but fresh fruit, nice acidity and a slight bitterness in the end.
 
Price: Medium
Food: Seafood, many sorts of fish (white, smoked, fat, tuna), white and light meat

A meeting with Silvia Bastos at the Café Tati

I regret the closing of the Os Goliardos wine bar in Lisboa, after ten years of existence. There has not been anything like it, before or after, as far as I know. But through my friend Pedro Marques, whose Vale da Capucha wines I import to Norway, I was last year introduced to Silvia Bastos and her partner “in life and crime” Nadir, and one of their other activities, the Vinho ao Vivo fair.

We managed to meet at the Café Tati on a Sunday a couple of weeks ago. The Tati, as the name implies, is a cultural spot, almost impossible to find if you don’t know about it, and filled with activities that I love, such as jazz and good wine.

2016-04-17 21.29.15 Silvia Bastos at the Café Tati

But what happened with the Os Goliardos wine bar, and what are Silvia and Nadir up to now? Silvia explains:

-Our main purpose is to promote wine as culture. We like an open exchange between producers from different countries that share the same values of humanity and respect for the land, having a more natural viticulture, being demanding in the wines. 

And to be more specific:

-We do import, export, distribution, training and two events a year, the Vinho ao Vivo in July in Lisboa (link to the blogpost above), and Vini Corsari in November in Barolo. We started as a wine bar and cellar, we have been doing wine tasting courses ever since, and that created an alternative approach, closer to the production, and a net of people fan of authentic wines. It became difficult to maintain the wine bar among out many activities. But it had its time, and we have a lot of good memories. Now our wine courses are held here at Tati.

I knew that Os Goliardos still existed, though not as a wine bar. And while I was doing some research it seemed to me that Silvia and the Nadir were doing a great and unselfish job spreading the word about the authentic, or artisan producers, and promoting other establishments too.

-We promote the places that decided to have a selection of character wines. I cannot say it’s unselfish because they buy wine from us and we are happy to drink those wines in nice places. But it’s quite hard in Lisboa to promote a non-mainstream style, so we believe we really have to help those places that took that decision.

The future of natural, small-scale, artisan wine in Portugal…

-We still believe we are a very small group in Portugal. If you go to one of the so-called wine bars of Lisboa that only have industrial wines, you will understand what I mean. But it’s a very gratifying work because we always meet producers and people that share the pleasure of the terroir, connected to culture, in a large sense. All that with good wines.

2016-04-17 23.18.56 The door to the Café Tati

Who could imagine that behind this door is one of the natural wine havens of Lisboa? Well, the area is quite popular, close to the Alcântara district, with the Cais do Sodré as one of its nearest neighbours, the railway station that serves the routes to the west. But there are no indication, and the street could need some renovation.

It’s full of cultural activities. I was there on a Sunday, and there was no jazz, but according to the week program there had been some interesting gigs during the past few days. And Silvia explained there had been a wonderful jam-session earlier that day. By the way the Goliardos wine courses are held here too.

On Silvia’s advice I started with a Vinho Verde, the Aphros Loureiro 2009. I have followed the wines of producer Vasco Croft some years, and I know they are good. But I didn’t expect a seven year old wine to be that vivid. Some developed character, ok, but still very much alive, quite fruity and with a good lees-character and lenght. I remember I visited the Lagar de Darei of the Dão region, when they started out some years ago, I even had accomodation there for a night, a freezingly cold night in March, I can remember. So I was very eager to try their Darei Colheita 2014 white. This was heavier, more full than the previous wine, but with ample acidity, maybe a bit more streamlined, but still good. A couple of reds too, one on Silvias suggestion: Óssio 2014 (Adega Monte Branco). The name alludes to the mountain range to the south of Estremoz (in the northern, fresher part of Alentejo). The man behind this one is Luís, son of Miguel Louro of the prestigious Quinta de Mouro. The wine is a single vineyard wine from schistous soil, made with grapes aragonês, alicante bouschet and syrah, fermented together. It’s made in collaboration with Os Goliardos and sold only through them. I admit I have no notes, but after these weeks I remember it as clean, fruity and with a nice structure especially from the acidity. Last was Gilda 2012 (Tiago Teles), a curious blend (castelão, merlot, tinto cão) from the Bairrada area, an interesting wine with notes of red fruits like cherries, plums, some spice, smooth tannins, and good acidity – made in the most natural way possible.

Other than this they had some wines from Álvaro Castro (Dão), Quinta de Serradinha (Lisboa), Marcial Dorado, Spanish producer in Minho, that sadly has closed down his business lately according to Silvia, a section of dessert wines like Port, Setúbal and Madeira, dubbed “Meditation wines”. There were many more, and the selection changes once in a while.

13313724_1031345000253331_422989639_o Interior, before the hords arrive (photo courtesy of Café Tati)

The Goliards was a group within the church in the middle age that wrote satirical verses in Latin, some sort of a protest movement in several countries of Southern Europe. In Silvia’s words they “wrote poetry and drank wine, it was a free movement, no boarders, no precise time”. I see the source of inspiration, although I don’t believe we should draw the comparisons too far.
What is certain: In the world of wine you meet many beautiful people. And the stories about wine, art and life are often intertwined, or they go parallel for a while, and with an open mind and a will to improvise you can reach interesting places. This “Lisbon Story” is an example of just that.

Portuguese discoveries

I was invited by winemaker Pedro Marques to taste his wines, and also some from his friend António Marques da Cruz, at restaurant Areeiro 3 in Lisboa. OK, this was a while ago, but this blog is new, and I want to include some events from the last months of 2014. Areeiro 3 is managed by Pedro’s brother and takes its name from the street adress, and you see it once coming up from the underground of metro station Areeiro. Both wineries, Vale da Capucha and Quinta da Serradinha respectively, is located in the north of the Lisboa region, in Carvalhal (Torres Vedras) and in the Leiria area. We tasted some really nice wines from Portuguese white grapes like arinto, alvarinho, antão vaz, fernão pires (and some French too, like viognier) and red touriga nacional, aragonês, castelão, and not to forget baga. Among the wines you should try once in Portugal are the white Capucha 2011 from alvarinho on limestone ground, a salty, mineral wine, still somewhat young and closed, and Serradinha Rosé 2013, red-orange coloured wine raised in 800 liter amphoras, with peach, rhubarb, strawberry, and some milky notes from malolactic fermentation. Another interesting wine was his red Quinta da Serradinha 1999, based on baga, and still full of life.

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I was also invited to the Vinho ao Vivo, a terroir focused fair showing predominantly organic wines. I didn’t know about it then, but it proved to be a really charming event to visit again. It’s organized by wine bar and restaurant Os Goliardos down by the Tejo river next to the Discovery monument near Belém, and it includes local artisan food and live jazz. Who could ask for more, really? There we met several old friends, all with new wines to discover, and some other nice people. André Gomes Pereira who runs Quinta do Montalto, in Ourém, was there with his well-made wines. I knew his reds and rosés, but this time he also brought a white wine from fernão pires, a really interesting golden/orange coloured sparkling wine from 2005, that had spent 8 years on lees, and a “medieval” mix of red and white wine. Vasco Croft of Aphros Wines was there with his marvellous red and white “green wines”. His Aphros Loureiro 2013 is a different interpretation of the grape of that name, with a deep aroma, still with a steely acidity, but wrapped in a full, fruity taste. And who says a vinho verde can’t age? Well, the Aphros Vinhão 2009 isn’t that old, but many would not believe that a five year old wine from that region should be so full of energy as this one.

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And who else was there, if not the one and only Mário Sérgio Alves Nuno of Quinta das Bágeiras! This time equipped with his new Pai Abel entry level wine, together with the delicious reservas and garrafeiras, premium examples of the traditional style baga from outside Sangalhos, Bairrada. The oldest one this time was a Garrafeira 1990, a sublime pure baga wine, with red fruit aromas, the usual peppery notes, hints of smoke and a bit of raisin. He also brought an outstanding white Garrafeira 2012. These are all wines made in the deepest respect and understanding for their tradition. One can hardly claim they are modern, but they surely are complete.

2014-07-11 22.57.29 Hey: Mário Sérgio is here!

But he was not the only one from Bairrada. Campolargo was there, I have heard, though I didn’t see him (so little time…). Up and coming organic producer Vadio I saw. They brought some really nice wines, also based on the baga grape, but with a bit more modern touch. They use “wild” yeasts to start the fermentation, but some cultivated yeasts later in the process, some French oak (never exaggerated), resulting in robust, but not aggressive, wines. The Grande Vadio 2011 was a wine for long ageing, a lot of tannins and super acidity, and a very supple fruit to go with it. They also brought superb citric, flowery whites from old vine cerceal, along with arinto (and also a bical version). Ataíde Semedo, known for Quinta da Dôna, was there. He had now brought a pure baga, and a 50/50 baga/touriga. Tired of oak, he sold all his barrels some years ago, so these wines are very pure, some maybe a tough too much “worked”. I particularly liked his Colheita 2013, a fine baga on the light and elegant side.

Quinta da Pellada of Dão was represented, so was Infantado (Douro), a couple of producers from Colares and many more. I tasted some wonderful whites from Muxagat (Douro), such as a 90% rabigato, and a barrel-fermented 100% rabigato called Os Xistos Altos 2011. I never made it to the fortified wines like Barbeito of Madeira (sorry, Ricardo, next time!).

There were also visits from abroad. Juan González of As Furnias had travelled over the border from Rías Baixas’ subzone Condado do Tea with his interesting low-sulphured, low-barriqued natural wines from several local grapes.

Prominent guests from Italy, such as piemontese Luca Roagna and Giuseppe Rinaldi, were also there. I didn’t see them, but their wines surely were present. So were the wines from French domaines Gonon (Rhône) and Maréchal (Burgundy).

Tune in next Friday, when our Wine of the Week will be one that we tasted during this fair.

2014-07-11 23.12.58-1 The sun was down, the moon was up, the discoveries lay behind us, time to find a hotel bed… And the band played on!