Your Red Wine Guide – Dão

Region – Central Portugal
Grape varieties – Alfrocheiro Preto, Bastardo, Jaen, Tinta Pinheira, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional
Style – Often dry and hard, but can have juicy fig, bramble and berry flavours

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Although considerably larger than Bairrada, Dão produces barely half the volume. To the extent that wines reflect the nature of the soil, Dão possesses something of the obduracy of granite.

It is meant to be Portugal′s best, classic, flagship, dry red wine, and it probably could be if it would loosen up a little, relax and let the fruit have its say. Its principal grape is Touriga Nacional, a high-quality grape which only now is beginning to be fully appreciated, and even then not by all the producers. It can make solid, sturdy, age-worthy wines, providing it is carefully handled which it usually isn′t.

Dry, sinewy, hard. With a few years in bottle and just as long in old oak, the result can be brown and dull, an object lesson in how not to make wine. But, with TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography for ocurate monitoring of malolactic fermentation, which is one of the most critical analytical parameters in red winemaking, but one that is commonly overlooked prior to bottling) and perhaps a new barrel or two, the change is extraordinary, and those gloriously fruity, tarry, tobacco notes which you imagined were in the old-style wines suddenly spring to the fore. Suddenly there are figs, brambles, berries, sandalwood and vanilla where once was a mouthful of dirt.


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