2016 Quinta Boavista Rufia ‘Orange’
Region: Dão < Portugal
Grapes: Jampal 50% + Malvasia Roxa, Encruzado, Cerceal Branco, Malvasia Fina, Bical, Arinto
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: certified organic farming; granite soil; 7 days maceration on skins in an open tank, then racked to old barrels, where wine spends 9 months on the lees and goes through natural ML; bottled unfined/unfiltered with 22ppm SO2; 12% ABV; 113 cases
Winemaker: João Tavares de Pina
João is a passionate non-interventionist winemaker – making him somewhat of a freak in the highly industrial, large co-op driven Dão region of Portugal. He believes that to be truly organic means to do as little as possible in the vineyard and winery. He hasn’t done anything but cut the grass in the past 2 years, relying on wildflowers like chamomile and lavender to defend the vines against fungi and disease, and harnessing the sun and the wind to produce all of the energy the estate needs. (Apparently being completely off the grid is a no-brainer when you’re in the middle of Portugal, as the grid is pretty shitty). In the cellar he also does essentially nothing – no new wood, no fining, filtering, not even temperature control. You might be confused, as we were, why this bottle has the same label as his white (with an incorrect list of grapes). Well, it seems that João got into a fight with the Dão appellation – they wouldn’t approve an orange wine for the DOC, so, as a big middle finger to them, he labeled it with the white wine label and capped it in orange to distinguish the two wines. For this and many other reasons, he kind of hates the appellation – to him they represent everything that is wrong with the wines of the area: too formulaic, too quantity-focused. As he puts it, his family’s been making wine here for 200+ years, the appellation has only existed for 80. This is an orange wine (white juice left on the skins long enough to take on some color and texture) made mostly from Jampal, a near-extinct Portuguese variety, and a field blend of other native white grapes. Not too tannic or weird at all, it’s totally approachable and delicious – pleasantly rustic yet bright and fresh, with sweet-tart fruit notes of persimmon, tamarind, quince, and pear.