Founded in the 19th century, Casa Santos Lima opened this year a modern visitor center!
I have known Casa Santos Lima (CSL) wines for many years and have always been fond of them, especially the wide range of single grape variety trademarks (it is the brand with the most single grape variety wines in the country I dare say!). But I knew little else about the maker.
And what better way to learn than to visit the centre of operations? Off I went to Quinta da Boavista in Alenquer where everything started.
The business was set up by Joaquim Santos Lima towards the end of the 19th century and then followed by four generations, all committed to preserving the family heritage together with the long-standing winemaking tradition in Lisbon.
As one of the oldest producers in the region, Casa Santos Lima started by selling wine in bulk. The development of viticulture in the region led the company to move to bottled wine.
Today, in addition to Lisbon, they make wine in Douro, Alentejo and Algarve. 90% of production is meant for export (rumour has it, Norway is the biggest fan!).
I can say that visiting Quinta da Boavista was a pleasant surprise! With a brand new cellar opened in 2014, CSL is seriously invested in wine tourism, offering a wide range of activities to anyone who, like me, wants to know more about them.
The visit kicked off in the reception room where some of the furniture from the old office in Chiado is displayed as in a museum. From classic tall wooden desks with leather covers, to trunks of documents and the bygone cashier screen through which business between farmers and producers used to happen.
I was then asked for a ride in the vineyard, this time in a buggy! I found out about the more than 40 grape varieties planted in over 540 acres that make the estate comfortably sat in an eco-friendly wheeler that fits smoothly into the grooves. A ride I recommend if you want to enjoy the multiple scents and the country silence, especially in late afternoon, when sunset makes the landscape even more bucolic.
I was privileged to taste the white Palha-Canas and the reds Quinta de Setencostas and Quinta do Espirito Santo – wines with strong Altlantic influence, mineral and fruity but at the same time structured and very gastronomic.
I was also lucky enough to be welcomed by Diogo Sepúlveda – in-house winemaker for all the vineyards – who joined me during the tasting.
Casa Santos Lima is a great example of evolution and innovation in a brand that, after more than a century in business, has invested in a new, modern, high-tech cellar and holds an open door to anyone who wishes to visit!