jamie goode's wine blog: ...and so does Dao

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

...and so does Dao

After a wonderfully educational and productive day in Bairrada, I spent Tuesday in Dao. The day started with a quick visit to the Paco dos Cunhas de Santar, an ancient property dating back to 1609 which Dao Sul are now rebuilding. Carlos Lucas told me that it will be finished by August, and will include a wine shop and a restaurant of Michelin star standard. We then walked over to the Casa de Santar, a beautiful manor house that makes wine (I visited four years ago), and which Dao Sul have bought a controlling interest in - their goal is to raise the quality of the wine to new heights. It's a beautiful place (pictured above).

Then, retracing my steps of four years ago, I revisited Alvaro Castro, who is currently making the Dao's best wines - his wines are actually among Portugal's very best, in my opinion. We toured his three vineyards in his fantastic Toyota Landcruiser, which is as old as me and required a bump start. First, Quinta da Pellada (pictured above), Quinta de Saes and a new block that used to belong to Passarela, which he recently acquired. It was a beautiful morning: temperatures in the mid-20s, bright sunshine, a gentle breeze. Then we did an extensive tasting of some fabulous wines, and had some lunch, joined by his daughter Maria, who is an enologist. I was very excited by these wines.

The afternoon consisted of a tasting at the Solar de Vinhos de Dao (above - they are celebrating the centenary of the demarcation of the Dao region this year) with 11 producers who'd all brought their wines along for me to taste. It was a great opportunity to look a broad range of wines that would not have been possible otherwise. As with the joint tasting in Bairrada, I left impressed with the quality.

Then it was time to drive across towards the Spanish border and up a bit to a remote part of the Beira Interior, where we were to spend the night. We were joined by Jose Almeida Garrett, who was presenting his wines, and also Joao Portugal Ramos, Luis de Castro and Jose Maria Soares Franco, who happened to be staying there the night on the way to their new project in the Douro.

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