I am somewhat of a bargain hunter you could say. I love fantastic wines and spend a fortune on this hobby as do many others. However, the pleasure of a great wine doubles for me when I get a deal. This is especially true for wines that have been aged 10+ years. Aged wines are more and more difficult to come buy these days as wineries dump their goods on the market as fast as possible in the interest of making a few more bucks. This generally also means that wines that are aged are a lot more expensive.

Wineries in some parts of the world, though, are not yet caught up in the pressure of capitalism (just-in-time winemaking?) and are sticking to traditions that they followed for hundreds of years. One such region is Portugal’s Bairrada, which lies about 150 kilometers south of Porto or 200 kilometers north of Lisbon. In Bairrada most wineries are making wine using centruries old traditional methods and here this also means they tend to age wine for a long time. And boy, do these wines age well…

Last night I had a bottle of Frei João Reserva, 1995 from one of Bairrada’s magnificant winemakers, Cave São João. This wine is 12 years old now and is just starting to show its character. You get the slightly orangie color that is typical of older wines and a beautiful heavy structure as you swirl it around in your glass. The taste is powerful, exploding fruit, almost biting into your tongue, cedar, leather, tobacco (definitely smoky too), tannins and quite a bit of minerality. This is a complex, fairly big wine, one in which you keep discovering new treasures on the palate after each sip. It is also very different from new world wines, and even different from old world wines that are made in modern style (such as most reds from Bordeaux or Barolo). It is unique and absolutely wonderful. And the best thing about it? I picked it up for about 17 euros, though you can get the same bottle in some online shops at almost half the price! Is that not a bargain?

Name: Frei João Reserva, 1995

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Body: Medium to Full

Price: 16.95 euros

Got it at: Cave Rokin, Amsterdam, Holland

Frei João Reserva, 1995

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