Won-Dão-ful: Dão Masterclass 26 February at Portuguese Wine School at Taberna do Mercado
I head off to Portugal on Monday for a week of visits with Simplesmente Vinho producers and, of course, the fair itself. With last November’s trip to the Dão, I shall be well primed for my next Portuguese Wine School at Taberna do Mercado the following Monday, 26 February.
As always, my line up at Taberna do Mercado will explore a diverse range of classic and cutting-edge examples from this famous, granite-boulder-studded region via favourite whites, reds and an orange wine (yes, Terras da Tavares Rufia Orange 2016!) And, I hope, lift off the page some of the personalities behind the wines, though my pictures should give you a clue.
November’s visit reinforced why so many sommeliers whom I have introduced to the region compare Dão’s Encruzado whites with Burgundy, albeit at a relatively bargain-basement price. A good number will feature in my upcoming Decanter Expert’s Choice on Portuguese Whites and I’ll show some of them at Portuguese Wine School on 26 February.
It also underscored how, going back to basics, new artisanal players are producing among its most terroir-translucent wines. With a striking shift away from Douro-alike (fuller-bodied, oakier) reds, António Madeira, Nuno Mira do Ó of Druida and Niepoort (Quinta de Lomba) are producing fragrant, mineral reds which make my heart sing. They can make your hair curl too – check out these barrels at Quinta de Lomba which highlight Dirk Niepoort’s favourite works in progress!
Below is a peek at the confirmed line up thus far – won-Dão-ful, as you can see. Tickets for the Dão masterclass, which kicks off at 6.30pm on Monday, 26 February are still available – email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place. Tickets cost £65 including supper.
Quinta das Maias Branco 2017 – great bang for buck and certified organic to boot!
Niepoort Conciso Branco 2015 – the 2014 debut of this centenarian Encruzado blend from biodynamically cultivated wines was a former Wine of the Month
Druida Encruzado Reserva 2016 – cool, markedly mineral, fine framed Encruzado – I snap it up when I can.
Terras da Tavares Rufia Orange 2016 – a thrilling skin contact field blend, including a not so usual Dão suspect – 50% Jampal
António Madeira Colheita Tinto 2015 – the elevated Serra d’Estrela sub-region at its most winsome – star mountain, star wine.
Casa de Mouraz Elfa 2013 – although Touriga Nacional, Portugal’s most famous red wine grape, is said to originate from the Dão, I’m reliably informed that it is not amongst the 30+ varieties in this field blend made from 80 years old vines. But if you ever wondered what a blend of Baga, Jaen, Tinta-Pinheira, Alvarelhão, Alfrocheiro, Bastardo, Camarate, Cornifesto and others taste like, this unoaked, organic red provides the perfect opportunity.
Quinta dos Roques Touriga Nacional 2015 – of course you should taste a Touriga Nacional, since it is said to originate from the Dão; at any rate, the Dão produces Portugal’s most eloquent expressions of this variety.
Quinta das Maias Jaen 2012 – Jaen – a stalwart of Dão blends – is the very same as Spain’s Mencia grape; Maias are one of the handful of producers making a single varietal example.
Alvaro Castro ‘Pape’ 2011 – a powerhouse year for this pioneering Dão boutique winemaker’s famous blend of Touriga Nacional, with Baga and old field blend grapes.
Fingers crossed, we’ll also show Casa da Passarella Villa d’Oliveira Encruzado 2015 (a very structured, highly complex, textural mineral Encruzado, the first vintage to feature a curtimenta/fermented on skins component) and Quinta dos Carvalhais Branco Especial NV 3rd edition (the idiosyncratic, mind-blowing non-vintage – 2005, 06, 09 – varietal blend from this leading Sogrape-owned estate – another former Wine of the Month).