Tinta Cão - two of a kind

View this post on Instagram

Sumi Sarma @sumiliertasting and Elizabeth Gabay MW @elizabeth.gabaymw take on exploring two rare rosé wines made from 100% Tinto Cão - Both recently launched- @kopke1638 rosé wine from Portugal released launched in 2019 and @golanwines Yarden rosé from Israel recently in 2020. Watch this episode as we take you through this lesser known grape and how it has the potential to create powerful creamy and complex rosé wines that can be savoured at room temperature with gastronomic cuisines. Lots to take away for both wine connoisseurs in search of diversity of grapes for rosé wines as well as inquisitive amateur and casual sippers who wish to enjoy pleasant crisp rosé styles! Thanks to all our viewers who shared their insights! It’s so nice to see you again. . . @winesofportugaluk @yaelgai @winesofisraelofficial @winesofisrael #iloverocknrosé #winelover #rosé #roséallday #wines #vino #portugal #israel #mwstudent #masterofwine #wineoclock #emergingwineregions #winechats #instalive #instavideo #sumiliertasting #winetime

A post shared by Sumi Sarma (@sumiliertasting) on

Liz first tasted the Yarden rosé in June, and, through the glory of social media saw that same day André Ribeirinho in Portugal tasting a rosé from the Kopke port house, made with the same variety. I did some more research, and discovered that apart from being used in blends, these two rosés seem to be the only two in the world made 100% with Tinto Cão! How cool is that!

Tinto Cão is one of the traditional grape varieties used in making Port wine for Portugal. This is a wine that adds high levels of complexity to the structure and finesse of the wine. It has low yields and is a grape that is potentially on the list of grapes that are on the edge of extinction as it is a cool climate grape. With global warming spreading across the world, it is becoming a threat to sustain this grape. As Victor Shoenfeld the head winemaker at Golan Heights commented, one of the advantages of Tinto Cao is that you can harvest slightly earlier to retain acidity without any green notes creeping in.

In terms of terroir, both vineyards lie at 400m, but otherwise the terroirs are very different.

Kopke is one of the oldest and established producers of premium tawny and white port wine. In 2019, they launched their latest rosé, a limited edition of 2,541 bottles called “Winemakers Collection”. The Tinto Cão grapes are grown in Cima Corgo situated at 400m altitude on the steep schist slopes of the Upper Douro. Harvested by hand in the beginning of August, the grapes are whole bunch pressed with 80% fermented in stainless steel vats at controlled temperature while the rest is fermented in used wooden barrels. These wines are then further matured in stainless steel vats for 6 months with weekly battonage to add texture to the wine.

Golan Heights Winery is the largest and one of the market leaders in Israeli winemaking. Davis-trained Schoenfeld has maintained a consistent quality throughout the range of wines as well as being open to experiments, such as this wine.The Yarden rosé is only just being launched outside of Israel. The grapes grow on the relatively cool climate volcanic plateau at 400m in the Geshur vineyard in the southern side of Golan Heights, part of the highest quality Galilee appellation. This region is the coolest region in Israel. As with the Kopke, the grapes are whole cluster pressed, but no use of oak.


The Kopke rosé is bright and clear and extremely pale salmon colour, the wine is intensely aromatic with floral freshness, red currant and strawberry fruit flavours on the palate. Equally shows a smooth unctuous texture with a hint of the spicy, smoke complexity and soft subtle tannins that integrate elegantly with the ripe fruit.

To pair with this wine, I prepared Green Mung lentil curry using Indian spices. The roughage with the green husk and the protein in the bean totally complements the soft silky tannins and the depth of fruit. The rosé wine has enough intensity and structure to pair with a Keema (Minced goat) curry or even Chicken Masala as well Turkey Lasagna. Its elegant and easy drinking style is uplifting and quite fresh and suits flavourful foods and the hint of oak adds that extra complexity to carry off spiced dishes.

Indian mung lentil gravy Indian style green mung lentil gravy

The ripe tannic grip of the Yarden rose, along with the delicate tropical and zesty fruit character makes it a great pairing for leafy vegetables. I made a Sauteed Spinach in an Indian style and added powdered and roasted fenugreek seeds and garnished with roasted fried mustard and white lentils which aromatically and texturally complimented the wine beautifully. With the backing of uplifting and rounded acidity the wholesome attributes of the wine take on the texture of leafy vegetables and the earthy notes of spices wrapping up all elements into its generously understated style. All in all, a complex and a distinguished wine.

Indian spiced sautéed spinach


Same vintage, same variety, same altitude and both only produced in small quantities, we were lucky to have the chance to taste these two 'unicorn' rosés and to explore the character of Tinto Cão rosés. With no other points of reference, we could not establish the varietal character. Julia Scavo, Master of Port who was watching the IGTV broadcast commented that the variety had almost become extinct before EU funding had helped to fund plantings of Tinto Cão vines.

The Kopke Reserve rosé, when tasted chilled, had itense red fruit, silky cream acidity, delicate structure from 20% oak - but not evidently oaked. Fresh mineral acidity backing evidently ripe round fruit. As the wine warmed up, layers of texture and subtle oak nuances opened up creating a more complex wine.

The Yarden rosé likewise showed fresh crisp acidity, mineral core, juicy red berry fruit. Less creamy and more vibrant with notes of lime. As the wine warmed up in the glass, a firm phenolic grip on the finish became more apparent, giving greater gastronomic potential.

Both wines have predominantly white fruit on the beginning of the palate but there an inner depth of red berries and strawberries coming through. Both have excellent acidity and good ripe weightiness and both were excellent gastronomic rosés.

I initially thought of two different recipes to match each wine, but in the end decided there was such a close varietal character that I could match both with the same dish. I chose to make a mushroom risotto cooked with rosé wine, sautéed fennel and dried porcini. The creaminess of the rice and fresh fennel notes matched well with the crisp white fruit, while the more rich mushroom character went well with the red fruit notes and the more structural oak and phenolic texture.

Mushroom risotto

Both wines are limited edition production, initially reserved for the on-trade. The Kopke 2019 is sold out, The Yarden will be available via Hatov.com in the UK.