Caves Sao Joao

Country of Origin: Portugal
Location: Bairrada, Beiras
People: Costa Family, Owners & Winemakers


Caves Sao Joao 1995 'Poco do Lobo' Arinto, Bairrada DOC Login WA 93 In Stock
Caves Sao Joao 1994 'Poco do Lobo' Cabernet Sauvignon, Bairrada DOC Login In Stock
Caves Sao Joao 1996 'Poco do Lobo' Cabernet Sauvignon, Bairrada DOC Login WA 90 In Stock

Wine regions come and go. Bairrada and Dão were central to the Portuguese wine industry for most the 20th century but fell to obscurity in the 1990's when wine trends demanded bigger, more extracted, warmer climate wines. But what comes around goes around. 20 years later, markets are looking for finesse and freshness, and people are heading back to Bairrada and Dão.

Caves São João, established by 3 brothers José, Manuel and Albano Costa, became a dominant winery in 1920 with the brands Porta dos Cavaleiros (Dão) and Frei João (Bairrada). These wines when young have pronounced tannins and high acidity. They are wines that age gracefully when kept in perfect conditions at the winery for 20/30/40 years. The Costa family opened their cellars to offer Obrigado Vinhos Portugal the old wines in stock ranging from 1959 to 2000. Now, they are pristine examples of mature wines with profound finesse and complexity. Caves São João is the only winery in Portugal offering library releases of still wines commercially, with vintages going back to the 1950’s.

Caves São João acquired Quinta do Poço do Lobo in 1972. Poço do Lobo is an estate with about 35 hectares. The estate is planted mainly to Arinto and Baga. It is only 15k from the sea, in the Bairrada region in central Portugal. Launched in the 1950s, Frei João specializes in red and white blends of indigenous Bairrada varietals. Due to their long term positive relationships with growers in Bairrada, Caves São João gets offered the best fruit produced each vintage. Reds are made from the noble Baga, the high acid, bright fruited indigenous varietal of the area.


  • Caves Sao Joao 1995 'Poco do Lobo' Arinto, Bairrada DOC
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 93 (4/1/2016)

    The Arinto "Poço do Lobo" is actually a current item, available from the importer. Arinto ages well and the terroir, not far from the ocean, typically provides good acidity. So, this region does have a reputation for aging well in all colors. This is lovely. To be sure, it is fully mature--and wonderfully complex. It is not going to taste fresh or fruity or perky. But if there is any oxidation, it isn't much. This has a fine core of acidity to still provide tension on the finish. It is surprisingly lively and relatively solid in the mid-palate. It awakens and actually seemed a bit fresher with air and warmth, with some notes of dried pear. It is not at all sweet, but its harmony makes it great to drink on its own. Or, it will go well with any number of restrained fish dishes and gentle, fatty foods. I came back to this another six or so hours later. It showed more mushroom and truffle, but its acidity was still fine and the wine was still great. It actually once again got fresher with air and warmth. How much longer does it have? That is always a fine question for wines that probably have already exceeded many peoples' guesses by a lot. At a certain point, it becomes about the bottle. It still seems to have plenty of time left, but let's exercise a little caution and take that in stages. By the way, the price for something this old and this good is exceptional. If it said "Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru" instead of Beiras, that likely wouldn't be the case.
  • Caves Sao Joao 1996 'Poco do Lobo' Cabernet Sauvignon, Bairrada DOC
    The Wine Advocate
    Rating: 90 (10/28/2016)

    The 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Quinta do Poço do Lobo is another of our oldies this issue. Cabernet is not really what you expect from a winery based in Bairrada, but the region in fact has a lot of French grapes and this is pretty good. It is aging beautifully. Soft and fresh, with velvety texture, this has probably lost a bit in the mid-palate (not that I saw it when it was young), but it is complex and flavorful with a touch of herbs on the finish. There are some tertiary nuances, too, as well as good structure and balance. This is a great time to approach this. It is not clear how much longer it has--so, let's take that in stages--but there is no rush.