Sunday, January 22, 2023

A terrific red that highlights the ongoing improvement in quality of wines from Portugal’s Dão

A terrific red that highlights the ongoing improvement in quality of wines from Portugal’s Dão

Fonte do Ouro Tinto Dão (DOC) 2020, 13.5% ABV, €17.25 

Like many Portuguese wines, this is a blend. All three grapes used are popular in the region. The Alfrocheiro adds depth of colour, Touriga Nacional (with its expressive violet scent) is considered to be the country’s finest, while Jaen is the local name for the what the Spanish call Mencía. By the way, Touriga Nacional probably started “life” in the Dão.

A government study in 2017 listed no fewer than 230 indigenous varieties and, according to the marvellous book Foot Trodden, there are many many more yet to be identified. No wonder there are so many blends in the country.

Portuguese wines can often be a hard sell because of the unfamiliar names of the grapes but don’t let that put you off. I like the neat way Boas Quintas (the producers) sum it up on the label: ruby colour, blackcurrant and cherry aromas, fresh, smooth with elegant tannins, 

It indeed has a dark ruby colour. Fairly rich aromas of blackberry, dark cherry and plum. There’s a great mix of the fruit flavours on the palate, with a touch of spice, smooth with elegant tannins and a very satisfying and persistent finish. This supple and fresh wine, full of vitality, has spent six months in oak and should be served at 16 to 18 degrees and will go well with red meats. Full of Dão character and Very Highly Recommended.

Importers and distributors O’Brien’s: A delicious red, showcasing the quality of winemaking in the Dão region of Portugal. Aged for 6 months in French oak it is a blend of indigenous grapes: primarily Touriga Nacional. 

And the region, for so long shackled by the dictator Salazar imposed cooperative system, that rewarded quantity over quality, certainly needed the improvement in quality which has taken place in the last 20 years or so. There have been setbacks of course, most notably the devastating fires of 2017. Casa de Mouraz, some of whose wines are imported to Ireland by Mary Pawle, was one vineyard that suffered badly as the flames raged in the  Dão.

The top Dão wines are now some of the most highly rated in Europe, winning consistent praise on both sides of the Atlantic, says “It is in the north of the country. It takes its name from the Dão river, along which the majority of the region's vineyards are located.”

Boas Quintas also produce a white blend under their Fonte do Ouro brand and that too is worth looking out for.

* Current price of my 2020 red is 17.25 (I got it on offer, before Christmas, at 13.95. 


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