We drove right past the sign for the Quinta da Boavista—amazingly so, considering its prominent display on the wall along the N115. But with the quinta’s scale hidden well by those same walls, it didn’t seem to us that Casa Santos Lima could be tucked into that corner so neatly.

But we knew we were close: Not only did the navigation say so, but we’d been surrounded by vines for the last kilometer, it seemed. We drove on the Rota Quintas do Alenquer—as this national road is appropriately named. Now that we know the Alenquer region a bit better, it all makes sense. The region makes for a marvelous place from which to dive deeply into the wines of Portugal.

And Casa Santos Lima takes its place as the benevolent leader in volume and portfolio. In fact, we discovered that the quinta not only vinifies accessible, affordable wines from its neighboring vineyards, but also features projects from five regions around Portugal—creating a one-stop shop for those interested in the country’s wines.

That has been Casa Santos Lima’s growth strategy now for several years. Indeed, they produce primarily for the export market—and most of that goes to the United States. I first came to know the company as many Americans do: I saw a dog on a bottle and I was drawn to it. Well, I say that tongue in cheek, as I’m not driven to certain wines by branding alone. But the LAB series of branco, tinto, and rosé were well made, inexpensive, and well placed in the larger wine stores where I shopped five years ago, before I moved to Portugal.

Now, you’re just as likely to have heard of Casa Santos Lima for its other well-known tinto, the Colossal Reserva—a berry-filled red that won high esteem from the folks at Wine Spectator in 2017, and continues to serve as a good entry point for those intrigued by the Alenquer region—though it’s marked as a VR Lisboa wine, because of its inclusion of non-DOC grapes like Syrah.

And you may have seen their vines as you’ve left the airport in Lisbon, upon your arrival into Portugal. As a way of marketing Lisbon wines to incoming tourists, the working vineyard lies on a hill across from the runways—and has not suffered from the proximity to airplanes, clearly.

The Santos Lima family began its winemaking in the region starting at the end of the 19th century; Maria João Santos Lima and José Luis Santos Lima Oliveira da Silva launched the wine business again in 1990, by replanting a large portion of the vines around the quinta. These vines, betweem 110 and 220 meters in elevation, sit about 25 km from the Atlantic Ocean, enjoying both its cooling effect and the warmer summers made possible by being a bit inland. Other regions where Casa Santos Lima continues its projects include Algarve, Alentejo, Vinho Verde, and Douro.

The tour for us stayed very personal, guided by a kind host through the modern equipment, mostly new since the 1990s, and the massive barrel room where many of the wines made locally age. Once back in the bright and glass-walled tasting area, she presented to us a selection of wines in the Prova Terroir, from vinho verde to deep red, surrounded by dozens and dozens of choices. And since our visit, we’ve had the opportunity to try even more wines from CSL’s staggering range.

The best part came when we chose a few bottles to take home. At the quinta, discounts allow you to pack up a couple of cases for impossibly low prices—so come prepared to stock up. We made the Porrais our house white for some time, and we’ve enjoyed the Confidencial and Colossal wines again and again since.

Quinta da Boavista, Aldeia Galega da Merceana

2580-081 Aldeia da Galega da Merceana, Portugal

GPS: 39° 4’12.01” N  |  9º 7’1.13” W

[email protected]

+351 263 760 621 | +351 263 769 093

Tasting Notes: July 7, 2017

Pluma Vinho Verde 2015

From Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto, and Avesso grapes. Green apple aromas and tastes. Petulant. Light fizz that stays crisp, with a hint of yeast on the palate. 10.5% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Casa Santos Lima

From: DOC Minho

Style: Light, crisp, sparkly white

Variety: Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto, Avesso

Price: About €4,50 online

Porrais Douro Branco 2015

From Rabigato, Códega do Larinho, Viosinho, and Verdelho grapes. From a vineyard at 630 meters in the Douro valley. A hayloft scent, with golden currants and lemony zest on the palate. 12.5% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Casa Santos Lima

From: DOC Douro

Style: Medium bodied, citrusy white

Variety: Rabigato, Códega do Larinho, Viosinho, and Verdelho

Price: About €7,50 online

Al-Ria Rosé Algarve 2015

From Touriga Nacional and Syrah grapes. From a vineyard near Tavira in Algarve. Red fruits and lollipops on the nose and palate, but without the sweetness. A mineral streak. A deep salmon color, lovely in the glass. 13% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Casa Santos Lima

From: VR Algarve

Style: Fruity, lively rosé

Variety: Touriga Nacional and Syrah 

Price: About €3 online

Monte das Promessas Alentejano 2014

From Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Alicante Bouschet grapes. From vineyards in the Alentejo. Canela (cinnamon) on the nose with a ringing garnet color. Smoky bacon and red currants in the glass. 14% abv.

Vintage & Producer: 2014 Casa Santos Lima

From: VR Alentejano

Style: Fruity, smoky, rich red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Alicante Bouschet

Price: About €2,20 at the quinta in 2017; now about €8-9 online

Colossal Reserva Alenquer 2015

From Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Tinta Roriz, and Alicante Bouschet grapes. From vineyards near the quinta in the Alenquer DOC. Softer, more “purple.” Blackberry juice on the nose and palate. 14% abv. Tasted again in the bottle at home with similarly good impressions.

Vintage & Producer: 2015 Casa Santos Lima

From: VR Lisboa

Style: Fruity, soft, rich red

Varieties: Touriga Nacional, Syrah, Tinta Roriz, and Alicante Bouschet

Price: About €5 at the quinta in 2017; now about €8 at local supermercados

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