I regret the closing of the Os Goliardos wine bar in Lisboa, after ten years of existence. There has not been anything like it, before or after, as far as I know. But through my friend Pedro Marques, whose Vale da Capucha wines I import to Norway, I was last year introduced to Silvia Bastos and her partner “in life and crime” Nadir, and one of their other activities, the Vinho ao Vivo fair.
We managed to meet at the Café Tati on a Sunday a couple of weeks ago. The Tati, as the name implies, is a cultural spot, almost impossible to find if you don’t know about it, and filled with activities that I love, such as jazz and good wine.
Silvia Bastos at the Café Tati
But what happened with the Os Goliardos wine bar, and what are Silvia and Nadir up to now? Silvia explains:
-Our main purpose is to promote wine as culture. We like an open exchange between producers from different countries that share the same values of humanity and respect for the land, having a more natural viticulture, being demanding in the wines.
And to be more specific:
-We do import, export, distribution, training and two events a year, the Vinho ao Vivo in July in Lisboa (link to the blogpost above), and Vini Corsari in November in Barolo. We started as a wine bar and cellar, we have been doing wine tasting courses ever since, and that created an alternative approach, closer to the production, and a net of people fan of authentic wines. It became difficult to maintain the wine bar among out many activities. But it had its time, and we have a lot of good memories. Now our wine courses are held here at Tati.
I knew that Os Goliardos still existed, though not as a wine bar. And while I was doing some research it seemed to me that Silvia and the Nadir were doing a great and unselfish job spreading the word about the authentic, or artisan producers, and promoting other establishments too.
-We promote the places that decided to have a selection of character wines. I cannot say it’s unselfish because they buy wine from us and we are happy to drink those wines in nice places. But it’s quite hard in Lisboa to promote a non-mainstream style, so we believe we really have to help those places that took that decision.
The future of natural, small-scale, artisan wine in Portugal…
-We still believe we are a very small group in Portugal. If you go to one of the so-called wine bars of Lisboa that only have industrial wines, you will understand what I mean. But it’s a very gratifying work because we always meet producers and people that share the pleasure of the terroir, connected to culture, in a large sense. All that with good wines.
The door to the Café Tati
Who could imagine that behind this door is one of the natural wine havens of Lisboa? Well, the area is quite popular, close to the Alcântara district, with the Cais do Sodré as one of its nearest neighbours, the railway station that serves the routes to the west. But there are no indication, and the street could need some renovation.
It’s full of cultural activities. I was there on a Sunday, and there was no jazz, but according to the week program there had been some interesting gigs during the past few days. And Silvia explained there had been a wonderful jam-session earlier that day. By the way the Goliardos wine courses are held here too.
On Silvia’s advice I started with a Vinho Verde, the Aphros Loureiro 2009. I have followed the wines of producer Vasco Croft some years, and I know they are good. But I didn’t expect a seven year old wine to be that vivid. Some developed character, ok, but still very much alive, quite fruity and with a good lees-character and lenght. I remember I visited the Lagar de Darei of the Dão region, when they started out some years ago, I even had accomodation there for a night, a freezingly cold night in March, I can remember. So I was very eager to try their Darei Colheita 2014 white. This was heavier, more full than the previous wine, but with ample acidity, maybe a bit more streamlined, but still good. A couple of reds too, one on Silvias suggestion: Óssio 2014 (Adega Monte Branco). The name alludes to the mountain range to the south of Estremoz (in the northern, fresher part of Alentejo). The man behind this one is Luís, son of Miguel Louro of the prestigious Quinta de Mouro. The wine is a single vineyard wine from schistous soil, made with grapes aragonês, alicante bouschet and syrah, fermented together. It’s made in collaboration with Os Goliardos and sold only through them. I admit I have no notes, but after these weeks I remember it as clean, fruity and with a nice structure especially from the acidity. Last was Gilda 2012 (Tiago Teles), a curious blend (castelão, merlot, tinto cão) from the Bairrada area, an interesting wine with notes of red fruits like cherries, plums, some spice, smooth tannins, and good acidity – made in the most natural way possible.
Other than this they had some wines from Álvaro Castro (Dão), Quinta de Serradinha (Lisboa), Marcial Dorado, Spanish producer in Minho, that sadly has closed down his business lately according to Silvia, a section of dessert wines like Port, Setúbal and Madeira, dubbed “Meditation wines”. There were many more, and the selection changes once in a while.
Interior, before the hords arrive (photo courtesy of Café Tati)
The Goliards was a group within the church in the middle age that wrote satirical verses in Latin, some sort of a protest movement in several countries of Southern Europe. In Silvia’s words they “wrote poetry and drank wine, it was a free movement, no boarders, no precise time”. I see the source of inspiration, although I don’t believe we should draw the comparisons too far.
What is certain: In the world of wine you meet many beautiful people. And the stories about wine, art and life are often intertwined, or they go parallel for a while, and with an open mind and a will to improvise you can reach interesting places. This “Lisbon Story” is an example of just that.