The wines of Portugal are all the buzz nowadays. Portuguese wines have a way of creating memories and unforgettable experiences. It is a region that boasts over 250 indigenous varietals, many of which are only grown in Portugal. The wines are unique, expressive and bound to steal your heart and your palate. Amongst the beautiful wine regions of Portugal, lies a hidden gem – Dão.
Portuguese wines are making a huge splash on the global markets and more specifically the wines of the Dão. The Dão is a magical old region that somehow people relate to as the new frontier in wine when in reality it is one of the oldest in Portugal. Dão was first demarcated as a region in 1908. A visit to the Dão is a must for any wine lover, but before you begin exploring, here eight things you should know about Dão wines.
DÃO IS ONE OF THE OLDEST WINES REGIONS IN PORTUGAL
Dão is a Portuguese wine region situated in the Região Demarcada do Dão with the Dão-Lafões sub-region of the Centro, Portugal. It is one of the oldest established wine regions in Portugal. Though it has been making wine for centuries, it was established as a region in 1908.
THE DÃO HAS UNIQUE TERROIR AND MICROCLIMATES
The Dão is surrounded by four impressive mountain ranges(Caramulo, Buçaco, Nave, and Estrela). These majestic mountains protect the vines from the direct influence of cold winds, summer rain clouds from the Atlantic, and continental storms.
The hilly vineyards also greatly benefit from the high elevations, ranging from 1300 feet to 2600 feet. The soils are made of decomposed schist and granite, with lots of sand and clay. The granitic soils heighten the minerality of the wines and soften the tannins. Giving you wines that are elegant, balanced, bright, fragrant and mineral-driven.
THE DÃO HAS UNIQUE INDIGENOUS VARIETALS
Portugal is known for its rare and indigenous varietals that are not found anywhere else in the world, except for Portugal. In the Dão, the main white grapes are Encruzado, Bical, Cercial, and Malvasia. These white wines are fresh, aromatic and well balanced.
The most widely planted red grape varieties of the Dão are Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Jaen, Aragonez, and Rufete. These varieties deliver wines that are intense, spicy, and aromatic with firm tannins and bright acidity.
THE WINES FROM THE DÃO ARE HIGHLY AGEWORTHY
The wines from the Dão are elegant and full of finesse. Due to the high elevation of the Dão vineyards, the wines are lighter in style than other wines from Portugal and hence appealing for collectors. Thanks in part to the elevation and its granitic soils, the wines are also highly age-worthy. The firm tannins and bright acidity of these wines make them cellar-worthy.
DÃO WINES ARE HIGHLY RATED
Some of the best wines from the Dão are also some of the most coveted wines in Europe. The wines from the Dão are gaining popularity and are consistently garnering high points, awards, and accolades. There is a plethora of high quality, affordable wines to satisfy all wine lovers.
A REGION WITH MULTIGENERATIONAL SMALL GROWER AND WINEMAKERS
Dão is one of the oldest wine regions in Portugal. Many of the vineyards have been in the same family for generations. More than 30,000 grape-growers, some with very tiny plots, produce about half the DOC grapes. The surge in the quality of Dão wines is thanks in part to these dedicated growers and individual producers.
DÃO IS AN EXCITING NEW WINE REGION THAT IS MODERN AND INNOVATIVE
Though it is a region with a rich history in winemaking, recent changes in the laws have vastly improved the quality of the wines coming from the Dão. In 1986, when Portugal joined the European Union, great changes began to take place. Large investments were made to modernize the wineries. Dão became an exciting new region. Today winemakers are experimenting with new winemaking styles, making wines that are more elegant and balanced. Modernization and technology are have brought about change and innovation to this old wine-growing region.
DÃO IS KNOWN FOR THEIR BEAUTIFUL RED BLENDS, BUT THEY ALSO MAKE EXCITING WHITE WINES
Although the Dão is most famous for their red blends, they have exciting white wines. The white wines are exceptional, especially wine made from their prestigious Encruzado grape, which is only used in the Dão. Encruzado will remind you of a beautiful Chassagne Montrachet. The Dão delivers full-bodied white wines that are floral, fresh and elegant with nice stony minerality.
FOUR DÃO WINES TO TRY NOW
Dão Kelman Encruzado 2017 ($22) – On the nose, there are notes of mint and citrus fruit. In the mouth, the wine is fresh with volume, structure and a persistent finish. The acidity and minerality are well balanced. Slight salty notes on the palate are typical of this variety in granitic soils. This wine has good aging potential.
Casa da Passarella O Fugitivo Curtimenta 2016 ($60) – This wine gives you a glimpse into modern winemaking in the Dao. This is an orange wine that is challenging the norms. This is a wine of great character and originality. Made from a wide range of native grapes (Encruzado, Uva, Cão, Bical, etc.), it has complex balsamic notes with some citrus and honey. A beautiful wine with a long and persistent finish.
Pedra Cancela Dão DOC Red 2016 ($9)
Produced with the three most known varietals of the region – Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, and Tinta Roriz. The wine is an intense ruby color, with a light garnet touch. On the palate, there are notes of intense red fruits, ripe plum, and cocoa. In the mouth, it reveals freshness and elegant tannins. Amazing value for $9.00
Quinta de Lemos Touriga Nacional ($39)
A region known for its blends, winemakers are beginning to experiment with single varietals. This wine is 100% Touriga Nacional. There are nice floral notes, intense ripe fruit, and spice on the palate. The wine has a full and vigorous mouth. There is beautiful balance and great depth of flavors.