Herdade das Servas Reserva Alicante Bouschet 2011 Quinta de S. José

The Biolovable Wines Of Quinta da Serradinha

Text Ilkka Sirén

It’s all about character. Unique wines with tons of personality, right? It’s not good enough to make just technically solid wines, you have to have something that sets you apart. And I’m not talking about just terroir here. I mean you can have the best terroir in the world, Romanée-frigging-Conti, but if that doesn’t translate into your wines you might as well plant your vineyard on top of a huge pile of toxic waste. Ultimately nobody gives a damn if the end result is an over-polished botox wine, even if it’s “kinda good”.

Good wines are boring and great wines are never perfect. Not in my book at least. What makes a great wine truly great is the x-factor, that certain edge that will make you howl like a wolf to a full moon. Great wines are not necessarily easy or even very tasty at first. In fact they can be downright nasty. But when they reach that perfect moment and release all their potential, it’s magical.


Sunny Vineyard at Quinta da Serradinha – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Located in the warm bosom of Mother Nature, about one hour north from Lisbon in DO Encostas D’Aire, close to the town of Leiria lies Quinta da Serradinha. The quinta embraced organic farming early on. Winemaker and current capo António Marques da Cruz said that people were a bit skeptical back in the day when his father started converting the estate into organic. But now that organic, biological or whatever you want to call it has gone mainstream we can safely say that Quinta da Serradinha wasn’t a bunch of hippies running around with flowers in their hair but in fact they were pioneers in a movement that has since then become widely practiced.


Grapes getting close for harvesting – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

I first tasted the wines of Quinta da Serradinha at a wine event in Porto. Although the wines were quite interesting they really didn’t speak to me at this kind of tasting. I felt like I was rushed and didn’t have the proper time to wrap my head around the wines. But the wines did stuck to my head and I was curious to taste more of them, but living in Finland does not make tasting Portuguese wines very convenient. Luckily I finally had the chance to visit the estate.


Wine cellar – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Driving to the winery I saw something curious and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Something quite primitive yet sophisticated. Behind a big barbed wire fence there was a vineyard. A vineyard inside a prison! I was dumbfounded. This would never happen in Finland, and not just because this country is climatically challenged. Apparently they take cultivating grapes very seriously down in Portugal. Almost made me want to rob a bank.

Anyways, arriving to Quinta da Serradinha we drove through a bunch of beautiful bushy vineyards. The winery itself looks quite, hmm, “down-to-earth”. No infinity pools or fancy fountains on the driveway. Just the essentials, rustic. The cellar is simplicity itself, stripped from all nonsense and pointless gadgets. Few vats, barrels, couple of amphoras and I think I saw a pump somewhere in the corner. You could quickly get the sense that this quinta is definitely a minimum intervention, hands-off kind of a winery. Let the vines do the talking.


Sampling from a barrel – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

We sat down in the cellar and started tasting through the wines. Barrel samples, whites made from varieties such as Arinto, Fernão Pires and Encruzado, rosé wines made in amfora which is a thing you don’t see very often. The wines offered tons of character. Some a bit funky, some very pure and elegant but none of them boring. There was a consistency of uniqueness in the wines which I found very appealing. A certain charm that made me want to taste more and learn more about these wines. But like always there was a couple of wines that really stood out.


Empty bottle usually means the wine is good – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Quinta da Serradinha “Poupa” 1999
The bird on the label is not just any vineyard pigeon, it’s a hoopoe bird also known as poupa in Portugal. This particular fellow got the top billing because he protects the vineyard by eating some of the unwanted insects thus decreasing the pressure to use pesticides. Nice little birdie.

Consisting mostly of Baga (75%). This wine is showing no midlife crisis. Developed aromas but still some nice vibrant fruit in the background. Lots of spiciness and some nice earthy tones with hints of dill. It’s surprisingly delicate but with a firm tannin grip suggesting this one would definitely find its place next to a good meal. I dare to say this must be one of the best baga wines outside of Bairrada. Very good.


António decanting a bottle – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Quinta da Serradinha Vinho Tinto 1989
One gets a bit wary when tasting Portuguese reds pre-90’s. Although some can age for decades, they sometimes tend to have a shorter life span. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad wines, it just means they will peak earlier which actually makes them more consumer friendly.


Ladybug, the mascot of Quinta da Serradinha – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

But I have to say that this wine surprised me. Even though it’s well matured it has some beautiful fragrant aromas of lingonberry and herbs. Lovely texture with still some of that nice Serra d’Aire freshness. Some might say this wine is over-the-hill, but that’s a question of taste. I think this wine still offers some good drinking but it’s getting to a point of drink now or forever hold your peace.

Quinta da Serradinha
Barreira Apart. 4040
2411-901 Leiria
Tel.: (+351) 244 831 683
Mobile: (+351) 919 338 097
E-mail: amc@quintadaserradinha.com
Site: www.quintadaserradinha.com

About Ilkka Sirén
Wine Writer - Blend | All About Wine

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