João Tavares de Pina – Quinta da Boavista
Quinta da Boavista is located on the southern slopes of the river Dão, one of the oldest wine regions in Portugal. We visited João Tavares de Pina here in 2019 and were met by bubbling barrels (the just-harvested grapes fermenting!) and a charismatic, all-round great guy.
João started making wine in 1990, although the family estate dates back to 1650.* He took a decisive step away from heavier, traditional Portuguese table wines and moved into a different realm of light, fresh wines with bountiful energy. Wines with a low ABV (10.5-11.5%) that celebrate ‘the green side of life’. He is somewhat baffled by the natural wine movement, saying that he simply makes wines that he enjoys drinking.
Quinta da Boavista covers 40 hectares, 13 of which are planted with vines. João and his wife Luísa celebrate polyculture and are making a rehabilitative effort to return a significant part of the land to its natural state, boosting soil health in the process. Alongside older vines they have created a nursery where they grow indigenous, almost extinct varieties.
The vineyards are located at approximately 500m, surrounded by oak, pine, and eucalyptus and sheltered by three mountain ranges which temper the climate. The vines themselves are interwoven with cover crops which stabilise the (granite and clay) soil while acting as natural fungal repellants. ‘Without a strong ecosystem’ he says, ‘we have nothing’.
These wines are young, fresh and full of energy. You won’t find any jammy flavours or black fruits in these wines, but rather a delightful range of texture and taste from the Dão valley.
*In the late 1980s the regulations stating that all grapes must be processed through a cooperative were lifted; a major change which saw a resurgence of winemakers focussed on quality. Where the co-ops paid for quantity over quality, independent winemakers now had a reason to nurture healthy, delicious grapes.