Tag Archives: Dao

The future starts here (Dao, Portugal – Day Two)

Knowing so little about Portuguese wine everything I am experiencing is new to me. With such an objective opinion of wine and the wine industry here, I am open to different ideas and I have been developing some ideas which may or may not be particularly accurate. One of the first things I noticed about wine in Portugal compared to other European countries is that more premium wines tend to be a little more expensive, particularly in restaurants where they have pretty much the same markup as in Australia. The second thing I have noticed is that there is a big difference between commercially produced wines and more premium boutique wines both in terms of quality and volume, but there seems to be a huge gap in the middle with very few medium-sized wineries. The third thing I have noticed is a lack of cooperation between wineries, which I experienced when visiting one winery and them talking in a slightly negative or condescending way about other wineries. Obviously these wines are competing with each other, but perhaps they need to look a little bigger and consider that they are actually competing with other product categories like beer, spirits and countless non-alcoholic beverages. You also can’t ignore the trend for the best Portuguese wines to be consumed within Portugal, with port the only exception. All of these reasons combine to create a situation where very few outside the country know how good the wines are, and as such not much is exported in a profitable way. Hopefully this will change as new groups have been established to promote the wines around the world. The two wineries I visited on my second day in the Dao region are probably the most important for the region in the export markets.

Sandy granitic soils in Dao

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Terroir hunter (Dao, Portugal – Day One)

The Dao and Bairrada geographical regions are part of the same political region in Portugal known as Beiras. I don’t recommend mentioning that with them, as the two regions couldn’t be more different from each other in a great many ways. Firstly the Dao region is more continental in climate than the Bairrada which is closer to the Atlantic Coast, and thus has more temperature variations between day and night time. Secondly the Dao region is higher in altitude sitting at over 250 m above sea level, whereas the Bairrada isn’t much more than 100m. Thirdly the region works with very different grape varieties; the Dao is much more known for red wines whereas Bairrada produces sparkling wine in high volumes, with red and white wines occupying a smaller piece of the pie. The wine styles are quite different, with the maritime wines of Bairrada being more linear, fresh and crisp and the wines of Dao being fuller and more robust. The final difference is in the landscape itself, as the Dao is much more wild and rugged, reminding me of the Grampians in Victoria where I come from. The Dao is a valley formed over time like a big bowl, and in this protected climate the touriga nacional grape is the undisputed king.
The Intrepid Wino in a medieval lagare in the Dao, Portugal

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Quinta da Pellada – 12/07/2012

Alvaro Castro Branco Reserva 2010 Dao D.O.P.
Nice and clean, mineralic citrus green fruit notes, hints of tropical spice. Light clean and pure, some very slight richness of viscosity. Full broad but quite short on the palate, initially warm but finishing cleanly. Balanced crisp and fresh, nice easy drinking.

Quinta de Saes Encruzado Reserva 2010
More delicate subtle aromas, not obvious at first, opening up with some melon and green apple fruit, some very subtle honey notes as well. A little richer and rounder, less flinty in it’s minerality, softer sweeter fruit profile, riper and more subdued, warmer. A little bit more character.

Quinta da Pellada Primus 2009 (encruzado, malvasia, cercial, bical, torrontes, etc.)
Quite a serious bold nose, somewhat mellow and rich, more robust yet more complex, slightly salty seashell notes. Compact, complex, tight and needing quite a while in bottle to open up. Rich and ripe, toasty and crunchy texture, more tropical profile but very dry and slightly herbaceous. Serious wine.

Alvaro Castro Tinto 2009 (tinta roriz, alfrocheiro, touriga nacional)
Slightly candied spice, black fruits, liquorice, raspberries. Very light and fresh, vibrant fruit and clean tannins, pleasant balanced and approachable, less concentration more freshness and acids. Lot’s of flavour in a tight package.

Alvaro Castro Tinto Reserva 2008
Deeper darker fruit on the nose, riper and more intense, showing some dark chocolate notes. Mellow full flavours, generous soft and broad tannins, tight acidity through the palate, quite intense at the moment. A little young and too exuberant at the moment.

Quinta da Pellada 2007
Juicier fruit-sweet nose, nice and creamy, mellow dark fruits, plum blackcurrant, serious and brooding yet inviting and approachable. Very intense and warm on the front, bold tannins that fade nicely on the back, fruit slightly overwhelmed at the moment, could do with some more age in the bottle. Very subtle herbal element.

Pape 2008 (blend of two vineyards, baga and touriga nacional)
Robust and powerful on the nose, concentrated seriousness, intensity of ripe dark fruit, some toasty sweet components. Much finer and more elegant, excellent purity and balance, nice combination of fruit and savoury elements. Powerful yet silky expression, very long and complex on the palate, will age beautifully. Stunning wine.

White wines at Quinta de Pellada

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Quinta de Lemos – 12/07/2012

Encruzado 2011 (tank sample)
Quite tropical leesy citrus nose. Good texture and freshness, focus and drive but very young. Fruit needs to open up a bit more.

Dona Santana 2009 (tank sample)
peppery spicy dark fruit, very clean, nice toasty and foresty. Focus drive and consistency of fruit, slightly maderised fruit sweetness, powerful but fresh and light, dense but drinkable.

Alfrocheiro 2009 (tank sample)
Denser and earthier, more in the red fruit spectrum. Looking a little bit hot for now, brisk but fresh tannins and acid, will look good after a year in the bottle.

Touriga Nacional 2009 (tank sample)
Darker fruit and toast elements on the nose. Feeling hot, hot, hot. Slightly out of balance, tannins and fruit aren’t supporting the structure and heat.

Alfrocheiro 2008
Nice juicy dark red fruit nose, very berry and red apple characters. Very expressive, warm at first but softens very quickly and nicely. Showing nice purity and harmony, good fruit sweetness and roundness, intense tannins and with a few more years should look great.

Jaen 2007
Slightly hot nose, looking slightly porty, quite toasty and earthy, really ripe dark fruits. Very focused and quite tight, fairly gentle tannins and supple fruit, good freshness too. Nose note consistent with palate.

Tinta-Roriz 2008
Floral fruit sweet nose of black cherries, plums and chocolate. Full-flavoured, plenty of fruit and generosity of tannin. Not really jumping out at me though, pretty much a solid wine that would never disappoint.

Touriga-Nacional 2007
Robust full fruit and floral nose, powerful yet subtle. Wonderfully soft and silky texture on the palate, not at all heavy. Warming, full flavoured but not overly fruit-sweet, in fact showing some nice savoury characters. Excellent focus and precision through the palate, exceptional ageing potential. Wonderful stuff.

Dona Santana 2006
Slightly talky tight and toasty red fruits, hints of floral notes. Light and fresh, very vibrant fruit and minimal oak. Ageing well, although quite hot on the back. The breadth and softness of tannins has gone, and it is looking quite linear on the palate. Better with food (although aren’t they all?)

Dona Georgina 2005
Bold and expressive, a lot going on in this one; ripe fruits, toasty new oak, some caramel elements, some earth as well. Wonderfully intense, still showing very young and brisk, but opening up beautifully on the back of the palate. Has the potential to stay for a long time in the bottle. Classic wine.

The Quinta de Lemos range

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Casa Aranda – 11/07/2012

Branco 2010 (encruzado blend)
Rich fruit driven texture, full body and fruit-sweet, quite ripe and full of vibrant flavour. Straight-forward no-nonsense.

Encruzado 2010
Tighter more mineralic and flinty, more pure fruit characters. Warm finish, but good integrity and concentration, bold but focused.

Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon Vinho Regional Beiras 2009
Pretty uninspiring typical shiraz cabernet blend. Purely varietal, not hot or heavy, but without character.

Tinto 2008
Bright ripe dark fruits, some minerality, purity and freshness. Nice concentration and spicy peppery notes, light dark fruits, a little creamy toastiness right on the back of the palate.Full-flavoured approachable wine. Good with food, better with friends.

Reserva 2007
Modern dark fruit driven nose, ripsl/hne extractive. Heavy ripe extraction, quite jammy and lacking in focus. Nice intensity but can’t really see the subtlety of fruit.

Touriga Nacional Tinto Roriz 2007
Earthy tarry dark fruits, toasty from oak. Deep dark intense bold jammy fruit, extractive and broad. Fruit sweet and generally uninteresting. But I’m sure many people would love it.

Casa Aranda

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Quinta Mendes Pereira – 11/07/2012

Branco Encruzado 2010
Bolder and more expressive nose not of fruit but lees contact and malolactic, slightly tropical creamy fruit. Bolder fuller heavier fruit, quite viscous and rich. More powerful broader riper profile, more in the pineapple region, certainly full but balanced with the alcohol.

Rose 2010 (touriga nacional)
Too bright and very fruity sweet, almost candied. Sweet, sweet, sweet. Volatile and looks cheap, hot, really bad. Not sure what happened with this one.

Tinto 2006
Nice bottle aged notes, some granitic volcanic notes. Slightly wild, but old-world interest, settled down in bottle, showing some savoury notes, really good drinking, particularly with food, unique and impossible to copy. Fantastic old-vine terroir wine.

Touriga Nacional Reserva 2005
Some interesting liquorice red and black fruit aromas, some earthiness and jubey notes. Nice bold full fruit, a bit of tang which adds to the interest. Good acidity, still looking very fresh. A more interesting expression of touriga nacional.

Reserva 2007 (touriga nacional tinta roriz)
Intense focused full yet tight and good grip. A much better treated wine, more gentle and less ripe, better balance and less influence of winery. Pure terroir wine, but perhaps just slightly lacking in fruit.

A Celtic tomb at Quinta Mendes Pereira

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Quinta das Marias – 11/07/2012

Encruzado 2010 (tank fermented)
Nice crisp slightly herbaceous nose with some interesting grass elements and some flint. Quite textural and warm, full but focused and long. Fresh vibrant and more in the mouthfeel than the flavours. Sense of place, just a little forward at the moment, will develop nicely.

Encruzado Barrica 2010 (barrel fermented)
Leesy cheesy fruit nose, lime rind and some yellow apple. Warmer broader fuller and rich textural note. Good balance, some nice texture and ripeness, a little creamy sweet element. Oak well integrated but sense it is dulling the fruit somewhat.

Alfrocheiro 2010 (tank ferment, 11 months 3-year old barriques)
Ruby red fruits, cherries pomegranates plums. Fresh light soft mellow, quite crisp and showing the warmth at the moment, nice clean finish, a little sweetness from the fruit and old oak oxidation. Very good wine, good drinking with some nice character, a little young for the time being.

Lote 2010 (blended red wine)
A little darker but still good clarity. Denser fuller bolder fruit and tannins, more bang for buck, won’t last long in the bottle. Good acids, oak barely playing a part. Dark fruits doing a good job, nice concentration.

Cuvee TT Reserva 2010 (touriga nacional, tinta roriz)
Soft mellow subtle dark fruit nose, some earthy minerality. Wonderfully complex, but also very full and bold in fruit. Smooth and opulent but also showing some sweet spices and earthy texture. Showing more of the terroir in this wine. Exuberant and showing some oak sweetness, needs more time in bottle.

Touriga Nacional Reserva 2010
Quite dark and purple in colour. Intense rose and violet dark fruits, dark deep earth, a little funk going on. Full powerful hot and fruit intense, oak-strong and tannin exuberant. A little smashed, too extractive. Not hot or heavy, but a little aggressive in the tannins.

Touriga Nacional 2007
More mature subtle mushroom balsamic notes. Softer cleaner lifted fruit, brighter and fresher, certainly more mellow, frankly an older version of the 2010. Still hot and over-macerated, not going to improve on unbalanced wine. Opening up though, getting better.

Highlight of the tasting at Quinta das Marias

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Fonte de Goncalvinho – 11/07/2012

Rose 2010 (touriga nacional, tinta roriz)
Nice rosey red fruit nose, kind of plummy and strawberry. Light clean fresh very dry, fairly simple fruit, easy drinking but lacking in character. Some nice tannins, but not really offering much more than that.

Colheita 2009
Nice dark fruits with some subtle spice elements, a little bit of meaty earthy old world, but generally all about the dark fruits. Juicy soft broad fruit sweet, generous approachable. Good quality, very delicate hints of menthol on the back, easy drinking with character. Not sure if I’m seeing the terroir yet.

Tinta Roriz 2010
Quite subtle earthy red fruits, some fungal herbal elements, fairly bright with very dry spice notes. Nice balance and depth, quite complex, some late juicy sweetness, nice savoury on the front with great acidity and persistent tannins throughout.

Inconnu (incognito) 2010 (blend of varieties)
Bolder denser dark fruits, fuller savoury brambly Christmas pudding notes. Full fruit, much darker and sweeter in character, you don’t need to know what it is to know it is good full flavoured, medium-bodied red wine. Wonderful concentration and expression, looking quite young but I can see it being very popular with a wide range of consumers.

Touriga Nacional 2010 (tank sample)
Much darker purple colour. Bright purple fruit nose, plummy cassis blackcurrant, very intense. Soft mellow and full, not heavy but fairly warm. Looking a little astringent at the moment and perhaps a little acidic as it hasn’t completed MLF. Certainly has density and concentration, but somehow missing the fruit. Needs some time after bottling.

The best wine of the tasting from Foncalvinho

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Barao de Nelas – 11/07/2012

Alfrocheira 2007
Noticeable oak influence, warm vintage reaction showing sweet ripe banana skin, jammy fruits on the nose, dark cherries and plums. Juicy full warm fruits, softens on the back nicely, ripe and somewhat extractive. Full flavour, classic Portuguese red(?)

Reserva Touriga Nacional/Tinta Roriz 2007
More meaty and stalky on the nose, closed fruit. Wonderful palate, excellent focus and drive, exquisite balance, great character and a sense of terroir. Complex and long, drinkable yet contemplative.

Touriga Nacional 2007
Most certainly dark brooding and masculine, very earthy and flinty, showing some granitic and gunpowder notes. Gentle generous fruity full rich. Denser tannins but lighter profile, focus and drive and integration of oak. Serious wine, bold yet subtle.

Reserva 2008
Brighter ruby colour. Rosey floral notes, a little flat on the palate, needs some more time to open up in the bottle. Nice concentration, wonderful acids, purity focus and longevity.

The best wine of the tasting from Barao de Nelas

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Quinta da Fata – 11/07/2012

Encruzado 2010
Clean mineralic salty citric acid nose. Nice texture and balance, oxidised. Looking very flat on the back of the palate, not sure what is happening. Crisp fresh but somehow out of balance considering alcohol of 13.5%.

Classico 2008 (classic four varieties)
Really vibrant forest spice, clovey herby, dark berries. Excellent concentration and balanced fruit, good depth of tannins and nice structure. Strong expression without being heavy, but not mellow, robust. Red wine of the day.

Reserva 2009 (mainly touriga nacional)
Wild flower, clove, forest fruits, slightly menthol. Pure dense softer and more fruit sweet, certainly seeing the difference between vintage. Ripe but focused and not heavy, hot or too fruit-sweet. Elegance and respect in a robust vintage.

Touriga Nacional Reserva 2009
Something quite extraordinary, and I finally see the potential for mono-varietal touriga nacional. Perfect balance again, totally unique terroir character, showing the forest and wild pine, Christmas. Very special wine, would like to see more vintages and more age.

The guesthouse of Quinta da Fata

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