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Portugal’s Dão Wine Region: A Great Find, Great Wine


Portugal's Dão Wine Region: A Great Find, Great Wine

The Dão wine region in central Portugal is much less well known than its nearby neighbors the Douro Valley or Vinho Verde. Almost two hours southeast of Porto, it’s also a bit harder to get to.

 

But the Dão region is a great find, with great wine. It’s one of the oldest wine regions in Portugal, surrounded by several mountain ranges that protect the vines from the wind of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

The region is renowned for its robust reds. Its main red grape varietals include Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, Jaen (Spain’s Mencia), and Tinta Roriz (known in Spain as Tempranillo). About 20 percent of its production is white wine, notably from Encruzado, Malvasia-Fina, Bical, and Cerceal grapes.

 

Going to the Dão wine region is also a great way to get off the beaten path and see a slice of Portugal many tourists miss.

 

There are some wineries open to the public, but not too many tour companies offer trips to the Dão wine region. We chose to take a private wine tour from Porto to the Dão region with Living Tours, a relatively new tour option from the company. We had a wonderful day trip with Daniel. The tour gave us the chance to visit two very different wineries that well represent the region, with two in-depth exclusive, private tours of each winery as well as wine tasting.


If you’re going to make the trek to a wine region, it’s worth it to do more than just taste the wine. We are very glad that we experienced Portugal’s Dão wine region. It was a great find, with great wine.

 

Viseu

 

Our first stop was to take in the historic town of Viseu, the capital of the region. It’s the possible birthplace of Afonso I, the first king of Portugal. It dates back to Roman times but is better known for its Medieval and Renaissance architecture. The cathedral was built in the 12th and 13th Centuries.

Portugal's Dão Wine Region: A Great Find, Great Wine
The cathedral

Caminhos Cruzados

 

The first winery we visited, Caminhos Cruzados (“crossed paths”) is one of the newest in the region, established in 2012. Originally family-owned, it was recently sold to a group that owns a couple of other wineries but hasn’t lost that intimate vibe. We had a full tour of the vineyards and the production rooms and even got to view the laboratory, where wine was being tested and evaluated before our eyes (usually that’s done out of sight).

 

We were then escorted to the dining room overlooking the vineyards to enjoy a private lunch with wine pairings. We were the only diners; it was like having our own personal chef and sommelier. It turns out that the chef, Miguel Vidal, used to own a restaurant in Viseu.


Portugal's Dão Wine Region: A Great Find, Great Wine

 

We feasted on a delicious, five-course meal, which also came with three types of bread, including the local cornbread, olives, and olive oil. What an experience! We sampled:

 

Veal and sausage croquettes with mustard sauce, paired with Clandestino, a white wine but cherry color because it’s a combination of the red Touriga Nacional and white Encruzado  😊😊

 

Local sheep cheese with fig, paired with Caminhos Cruzados Dao Tinto, a red blend 😊😊

 

Codfish (the national dish of  Portugal) with cornbread breadcrumbs, paired with Vinhas Da Teixuga, a white blend 😊😊+

 

Veal in a clay pot with red wine, paired with Caminhos Cruzados Alfroncheiro, a premium red 😊😊

 

Chocolate crepes and ice cream made with jeropiga, a Portuguese liquor made with hot water and grape juice, paired with Caminhos Cruzados Reserva Tinto 😊😊

 

Portugal's Dão Wine Region: A Great Find, Great Wine
The crepes

We were so full after this meal that we ended up canceling our dinner reservations and ate a light supper in the hotel!

 

Quinta Da Taboadella

 

The second winery we visited, Quinta Da Taboadella, was a completely different wonderful winery experience. It has been owned and operated by the same family for four generations, which is impressive enough, but its history reaches much further back. The first written record of the premises dates back to 1255, and ruins of some of those buildings still exist, but winemaking on the property actually dates to the First Century, and an ancient Roman grape press and other archaeological remains are also on the grounds.


Portugal's Dão Wine Region: A Great Find, Great Wine
Remnants of the Roman-era grape press

The production facility, in contrast, is modern looking and partially built with sustainable materials such as cork. It features an unusual “barrel top walk” walkway high above the barrel room.

 

Portugal's Dão Wine Region: A Great Find, Great Wine
The view from the walkway

  

After touring the production area, we moved to the comfortable tasting room. We sampled:

 

Taboadella Villae Branco, a white blend 😊😊

Taboadella Villae Tinto, a red blend 😊😊

Taboadella Reserva, 100% Alfrocheiro 😊😊+


We hope that our report on Portugal’s Dão wine region, a great find with great wine, was interesting and informative. Please consider adding this destination to your wine tourism itinerary. Um brinde! (“A toast!” in Portuguese).


Do you have any additional wine experiences in the Dão region or Portugal you recommend?  Let us know!  We’re at info@winewithourfamily.com

 

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