I first met António Marques da Cruz and tasted his wines a few years ago, in a restaurant owned by the family of fellow winemaker Pedro Marques in Lisboa. Next occation was a wine fair down by the river Tejo. You can read about it here. Since then I have occationally come across the wines in bars, mostly in Portugal (such as the Café Tati), that specialize in quality wines from artisan growers.
Meeting António and tasting his wines in Lisboa
It was quite surprising to find a baga from just outside Leiria. But looking at it, the humid climate near the coast and the limestone-clay soils (also with chalk content) are not very different from what you can find many places in Bairrada, where the grape is at it most emblematic. The Marques family was pioneers in organic viticulture and low-intervention winemaking in the area.
The next surprise was that the wine was that old. I came across it this year too, in London, and it had really stood the test of time. Baga is also used in younger blends, giving both fresh and meaty, blueberry and blackberry scented wines.
The Baga 1999 comes from a vineyard planted back in 1957. It has 75% baga, the rest being a field blend of castelão, trincadeira and alicante bouschet. Everything was hand-harvested, the maceration was carried out in 20 days. The wine was aged in big 3000L barrels, and the wine was bottled without filtration. Alcoholwise it clocks in at just 12%. I think at a time the wine was labelled Estremadura (the name of the wine region now known as Lisboa).
Quinta da Serradinha 1999 (António Marques da Cruz)
Deep cherry red. It still retains some freshness, with blueberry intact, but with aged aromas such as nuts, dried fruits and a touch of raisins. Concentrated, still pretty lively in the mouth, with some acidity. But everything is just so well integrated.
Food: Many kinds of meat, hard cheeses, lovely on its own