Portugal's Dão Takes Center Stage


The highest peak in Portugal is home to arguably the country’s most exciting region. Defined by granite, local grapes like Encruzado and Jaen (aka Mencia in Spain), the best wines here are also the country’s most elegant. With new arrivals from the top producers to our shop, it feels right to spotlight Dão.


If you like names like Roulot and Coche, pay attention. 

Nuno Mira do Ó is an extreme talent with endless curiosities. A meal with him will include conversations of restoring old vines of Baga in Bairrada (which he did) to finding precise turbidity levels in his ferments, which he learned from Meursault legend Jean-Marc Roulot. He's obsessed with finding the best raw material to honor in the cellar. 

With Druida–his label dedicated to native varietal Encruzado–he farms a forested vineyard right off the Dao river, dividing one site into 16 parcels. He makes multiple expressions of Encruzado from unique sections of the vineyard: one from pure granite soil, and another closer to the river where clay sits heavily atop the same granitic soil. Both are made the same, with a quiet elevage allowing a very intentional reduction–but are wildly different wines. If you dig great white Burgundy (how could you not?), seek out Nuno’s wines. 

Antonio Madeira

Antonio Madeira went from making wine in his in-laws’ garage to full-blown star in Portugal, as the region’s leading natural wine producer. And for good reason: he produces natural wines from ancient parcels the way Richard Leroy does Chenin or Lapierre does Gamay. His wines are both natural and very fine.

He works with wildly old vines in Serra da Estrela and, having just tasted his whole range, we feel he’s unmatched in making aromatically styled red blends. Especially where Jaen (Mencia) and Baga are at the forefront. With gentle extractions, native fermentations, and low-to-no SO2, these are fragrant, granitic wines.  

Mais Dão

Alvaro Castro is the first grower to show the potential for fine wine in Dao. The OG if you will. He makes a dizzying amount of different wines and we have a handful of his best, including his cement egg Encruzado. 

Carlos Raposo makes one of the most over-achieving wines in the shop. At $19, his ‘Impecavel’ is a grippy, red fruited wine that comes from roughly 30 year old vines mostly in Serra da Estrela. All the fruit is farmed with organic/biodynamic methods, fermented and aged in stainless steel, with a very gentle extraction.