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Spotlight on Portugal's Dão region
Part 6: Casa de Passarela

Casa de Passarela is a lovely traditional-styled Portuguese house. It’s owned by Manuel Santos Lima and his family, and is the heart of the Passarela wine estate. After an extensive tour of the highly photogenic vineyards, we had a lovely lunch of Calde Verde (cabbage soup) and roast kid, with Quiejo de Serra (mountain sheeps cheese) to finish.

The estate consists of 70 hectares, with 40 of these under vine. Manuel has been running things here for 15 years and has restructured the vineyards to improve quality. They are at an altitude of 500 metres and mostly face south and west.

One thing that is immediately apparent about the vineyards is the lack of small oak. No massed ranks of barriques in the cellar. Manuel doesn’t use barrels. Instead, he concentrates on making enjoyable, fruity Dão wines at very fair prices. Two different labels are made, both called Somontes. Manuel hasn’t ruled out making a more serious wine under the Casa de Passarela label when the vines are a bit older. These aren’t the most complex of Dão wines, but they are well made and represent brilliant value.

Somontes 2001 Dão (white label)
This is bright, ripe and fruity with accessible red berry and cherry fruits. Good acidity. Very enjoyable and fruity with a nice savoury spicy edge. Smooth, soft and gently spicy. Very good+ 86/100 (€1.70 ex cellars)

Somontes 2003 Dão (black label)
Ripe sweet black cherry fruit on the nose, which is very inviting. The palate shows a good concentration of sweet, accessible blackberry and cherry flavour. There’s some acidity, too, but it is very nicely rounded with lovely sweetness to the fruit. Very good+ 88/100 (€2.50 ex cellars)

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