João Tavares de PinaTerras de Tavares/Quinta da Boavista

3550 – 058

Castelo de Penalva

Penalva do Castelo 




Tel: +351 91 985 83 40 

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I know João Tavares de Pina’s to be a passionate champion of the Dao region, its wines and food. Perhaps its best I declare now to having a slight conflict of interest when talking about João. He has been one of my most important sources for understanding what makes Dao tick and over time I have come to consider him a good friend. But then I’ve made friends with many producers in Dao over time, so perhaps I’m overstating any potential conflict.

I met Joao on my first visit to Dao back in 2008. I had been judging wine in Porto and expressed an interest in learning more about Dao’s wine based on previous experience with older wines from the 1980s. Dao’s wine governing body, CVR, was distracted with other things at the time and couldn’t offer guidance. Joao stepped into the breach and, at his own expense and time, shuttled me around the region to taste at dozens of producers, then took me into his home and fed me typical Dao cuisine with his family. Over the course of that week I fell in love with Dao, its wines and its people.   

After initial studying viticulture and winemaking at Bordeaux University, Joao  followed this with further study at Villa Real, where he finished a 3 year research project on yeast: selecting yeast from Vinho Verde that is eventually commercialized as QA23 and sold throughout the world.  

Tavares is a strong proponent of the cooler climate wine styles around Penelva do Castello and, in particular, the Jaen grape (Spain’s Mencia). His wines are true to the cooler, more elevated climates surrounding Penelva do Castello where Touriga Nacional can ripen 2 weeks later than in the hotter, middle part of Dao around Nelas. Joao believes the extended ripening time around Penalva and Gouveia deliver ripe tannins without losing delicate aromas, all at lower alcohol levels around 13%, resulting in ‘freshness, not high acidity.”

Whereas Jaen is looked down upon by many in Dao, it is clearly better suited to Penelva’s longer growing season where aromatics are teased out and tannins can reach full physiological ripeness. Alongside Quinta dos Roques, Tavares’s Jaens are among the best made in Portugal so far.

The 7ha vineyards at Quinta da Boavista contain red clay interspersed with mica, quartz and granite on the lower slopes which is where Touriga is mainly planted. From an aesthetic perspective, I’ve always enjoyed the way Dao’s terroir sparkles back at you. On a more practical level this soil is advantageously infertile, making vines struggle. Cropping is naturally at or under 2 ton/ha and Tavares believing that vines should find their own harmony and carry their own natural weight in grapes with low producers having more ripeness and others less, thus creating a greater complexity.

No-till, grass cover cropping is practiced and although the vineyards are not certified organic, they are farmed under organic and sustainable practices. Given the winery is covered in photovoltaic cells, making Quinta da Boavista a net exporter of electricity, Tavares could promote his wines as carbon neutral. 

Quinta da Boavista’s branding is a little confusing because someone else snapped up copyright on Boavista, so Joao’s wines are marketed as either Torre de Tavares, which draws fruit from non-family owned vineyards or declassified estate wine, or Terras de Tavares, which is the top wine from the estate plantings. Boavista’s grapes are Jaen and Touriga Nacional with mixed varietals in field blended, older vineyards.

Joao's wine styles tend to be tightly constructed and highly reductive intent on stressing minerality. Given Joao’s background as a chef, his wines are highly gastronomic, aiming for “concentration without density.” They can be difficult to drink in youth but reward careful cellaring.

João Tavares de Pina is an intense character with strong opinions, which like me, he is often willing to defend passionately. Unsurprisingly, his wines tend to be intense, strongly charactered and uncompromising in their intent. They are clearly not for everyone, but I love them, and anyone who is willing to take them on their own terms should come to as well.

Terras de Tavares Colheita 2001 12.5% This blend of 60% Jaen supported by Touriga and Roriz offers a pleasant mix of black cherry and flowers, nicely fruited, with Dao’s classic linearity and fine acidity. From a cooler vintage, it’s drinking beautifully now. Tasted 10.2012

Terras de Tavares Reserva 1997 12.5% This 60/40, Jaen/Touriga blend is only just coming into its own. Aromatically charged with complex, broad, spicy,  floral high tones with cola, coriander and red fruit nuance (not to mention a touch of complexing corruption in there too). Beautifully poised in the mouth, soft but firm, with fine, long, well managed tannins. A very long, very elegant wine that shows full potential of the vineyard. It shows how Dao can lean in the direction of mature Barolo. Give it a couple of hours to breate properly. Tasted 10.2012

Terras de Tavares Reserva 2003 13% Penelva’s cooler climate delivered less heat in 2003 than in 2004, so it missed the overblown ripeness and high alcohol common elsewhere in Europe. Consequently this 60/40, Touriga/Jaen blend displays a fresh, floral mix of red and black fruits bound up in graphite minerality. Initially tight and condensed in the mouth, with austere tannins, given a lot of it all fines out. Tasted 10.2012

Terras de Tavares Reserva 2004 13.5% This 60/40, Touriga/Jaen blend offers atypical cooked, dried black fruit, strawberry preserve, alcohol and mineral aromas. This port-like raisin character on the nose and palate is unusual in cool climated Penelva-- a function of a hot year. Full bodied, packed with big, chunky tannins and tons of ultra-ripe, dried fruit complexity, there is no denying its power and length. Heavy and lacking the freshness typical of Terras de Tavares wines, although it shows the vintage well and many other people would enjoy this more, it’s not my favorite. Tasted 10.2012

Terras de Tavares Reserva 2005 14% A blend of 70% Jaen and 30% Touriga, this displays Dao’s signature ‘pine needle’ dried herb aromas, with mineral black cherry-like notes in support.  After a soft (relatively), succulent entry it coats the mouth with fruit and firm, fine-ish, explosive tannins. Offering good length of flavor, its yet another Tavares wine needing a little more time or a pile of food to counterbalance structure. Tasted 10.2012 

Terras de Tavares Reserva 2006 13% This blend of 60% Touriga and 40% has had Grande Reserva-like treatment, spending 3 years in oak and 2 years in bottle. The Jaen content reins in Touriga’s tendency towards flamboyant florals and black fruits, driving an impressive mineral purity throughout the wine.  Just hitting its stride now, it’s still very tight and freshly fruited for its age. It’s ‘no compromise’ firm, finely dusted, tannic structure begs for more time in bottle or grilled meat. 12-15eu retail. Tasted 10.2012

Terras de Tavares Touriga Nacional 2005 14% Tempered by a 15% cut of Jaen, this offers an aromatic mix of licorice, aniseseed and black fruit, all wrapped  up in graphite minerality. Full bodied and full flavored, but with a cleaner, finer texture than hotter parts of Dao tend towards, it delivers great back palate concentration, super length and a fine example of Tourga’s middle of mouth tannic signature. Joao says this wine a little too smooth for him, but not for me! Tasted 10.2012

Torre de Tavares Branco 2009 12.5% Regional Beiras 100% Made primarily from Siria grapes from an old vine vineyard with each vine picked separately for optimum ripeness. Grapy, Muscat raisin-like, aromas are counterbalanced by mineral flavors underpinned by a tight structure ending in a fine mineral finish. Tasted 10.2012

Torre de Tavares Encruzado 2008 12.5% Dao DOC Grapes for this wine are drawn from 30-40 year old vines located in cool, foothills of Serra Estrella near Gouveia. Fresh white grape, straw, floral and mineral aromas, lead on to a dense palate filled with fresh, fine acidity and focused minerality. Tasted 10.2012