When King Joao V offered this property located in Estremoz to his lover Dona Maria, no one knew that this passionate and secret love story would lead almost 250 years later to a magnificent wine adventure and give birth to a great name in Portuguese wine: the name of Julio Bastos.
One Step Ahead
As a leader, Julio Bastos is a winemaker who has learned to follow his convictions, listen to his intuition and above all to stay one step ahead. First, by recognizing very early on the great qualities of the Alicante Bouschet grape.
This magnificent variety was obtained in France in 1855 from blended Grenache Noir and Petit Bouschet. According to Julio, the problem in Portugal is not the quality of its wines.
We needed to be able to show the world the finesse of our productions on our terroirs.
Sublime Terroirs of Alentejo
The estate’s 60-year-old vines are not irrigated, so amateurs can be sure to discover an authentic expression of the “terroir”. At the time of the wine tasting, Quinta do Carmo Garrafeira vintage 1986 was judged better than Le Mouton Rothschild of the same year, therefore proving that the nature of the Alentejo soils would make the difference in developing future great wines. This was in fact a great victory for Dona Maria Vinhos
The unexpected Alentejo offers a warm exuberance, an exceptional depth of juice. Flavors going beyond classicism, certainly nearing the eccentric.
In both white and red, we have wines with character and an ageing capacity of 30, 40 years or even more. When I started producing wines, I didn’t know anything at all. I repeated what my father told me.
Thus, when his father passed away in 1986, he had to show a great mental strength to take over the reins of the Dona Maria estate on his own, without any school training in viticulture. But in Julio’s immense life experience, knowing how to delegate and surround himself with an excellent oenologist was a decisive move, his personal trademark.
A French Oak Elegance
Each direction is essential. Such as the choice of favoring French oak wood for aging in barrels, in order to avoid the excessive aromas of vanilla that quickly tire our palate from the second glass.
By choosing a 14-month ageing and no more, the young oenologist Sandra Gonçalves has succeeded in producing a fresh and complex wine, easy to digest. A singular wine too, because it proves to be a true varietal wine in accordance with its terroir, one which only talented winegrowers know how to produce.
After eighteen years spent oroducing vintages at the Dona Maria estate, but remaining a discreet author, she works in the service of wine more than at promoting her name and glorifying her own success.
JULIOS B. BASTOS, the Flagship Cuvée of the Estate
Among the organoleptic characteristics of this Julios B. Bastos cuvée, a 100% Alicante Bouschet, we navigate amid aromas of black plum and kirsch. It’s a blend of very ripe fruits – a little stewed (blackcurrant, blueberry, blackberry) and mixed with balsamic or resin notes.
After a few years, we find truffle, graphite, tar, and sometimes a touch of eucalyptus or chocolate. Needless to say, this is a grape variety with a complex potential that stands out on its own.
The texture of the tannins is silky, full of delicacy. It’s not so much the robustness as the length that develops on the palate.
Some would call it a feminine patina, while others might say a finesse, but what really matters is the ability of this 2014 wine to stand the test of time without losing any of its fragrance or complexity.
A taste impression of « movement » comes across, most certainly the result of the symbiosis between the owner and his talented oenologist.
Perfectionistic and passionate, Julio Bastos?
His primary motivation has been to do his best. I invested everything I received. Today, looking back on my experience, I just hope that those who love Dona Maria wines will recognize my efforts.
One of the secrets of the estate lies in the winemaking method. It goes off the beaten path, exalting the richness of the grounds. Knowing how to decipher the quality of the grapes before embarking on the various winemaking processes is therefore essential. Because each wine is a longing, an interpretation of the qualities of the grape.
First, in order to keep the juices very sweet, the bunches are kept cool and then delicately placed in lagares, which are large marble basins, as used in the Douro region for Port wines. This is a costly gamble, but also a truly bold choice. These rectangular, low and wide vats made of granite, a noble and local material, are used to crush the grapes with the feet.
In this way, Bastos knows how to make the most of methods of the past. The berries are crushed there to obtain maximum freshness. This unusual choice of ancient marble lagares suggests the richness of Portuguese wine history and shapes the exhilarating depth of the Julio B Bastos single-varietal cuvée.
Truly passionate about his estate, this entretpreneur’s other secret is to stay focused on his goals until the end. Don’t do what I did in the beginning. Follow your own ideas. And don’t let money or a lot of fancy talk determine your path.
Characterized by a taste for movement, this baroque company manager is the living example of a complex aesthetic, skilled at surprising and then moving the wine enthusiast.