Wines of Dão are mainly produced at high altitudes. Most vineyards are located between 400 and 700 metres high. In the Middle Ages, the wine production in this region was quite significant and carried out by the clergy. After being affected by mildew and phylloxera, the production increased significantly. In 1908, wine production was defined and Dão Region was created as the second Portuguese wine region.
The region has a lot of small producers, who own small vineyards. Usually, their produce would go to Cooperatives that would produce and sell the wines to the public and other big and medium-sized companies who would bottle it and sell it under their own brands. In 1986, when Portugal joined the EEC, now known as EU, the rules had to change. So, many companies from other regions purchased land in this region and started their own production. The old cooperatives also modernised and started selling under their own brand and the small producers started producing and selling their wines under their own brand.
The region is located in Beira Alta. Surrounded by mountains it makes it perfect for wine production, as the mountains protect the vines from strong winds. The climate suffers influences both from the Atlantic breezes and the interior. This means cold Winters with high levels of precipitation and hot and dry Summers. The soil is low dept granitic, or schistic in the southern part of the region. Most of its production is located at a high altitude, however, the south of the region presents a lower altitude. The region is divided into 7 sub-regions: Besteiros, Silgueiros, Castendo, Terras de Senhorim, Terras de Azurara, Alva and Serra da Estrela.
The region has a wide variety of white and red grapes. Also, when Portugal entered the EU, it was set a list of grape varieties more suitable for this region. In the white varieties we find Bical, Cercial, Encruzado and Malvásia Fina and in the red varieties we find Alfroncheiro, Aragonez, Jaen, Rufete, Tinto Cão and the famous Touriga Nacional.
Like all other wine regions of Portugal, Dão offers a great variety of wines of excellent quality and refined taste. The whites tend to be balanced, very aromatic, and fruity, while the reds are usually full-bodied but also aromatic. They can be aged in a bottle and that may help them acquire complexity.
A region not to miss on your next trip to Portugal.