The Dão region is located in the centre of Portugal in a mountainous area just south of the Douro region. One of the oldest wine regions in Portugal, the Dão region was officially demarcated in 1908 and the Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) for the region was established in 1990.
The most famous of the grape varieties that originate from the Dão region is the wonderful Touriga Nacional – the key grape used in Port production. In recognition of the importance of the grape it has become a requirement of the DOC that a minimum of 20% of the wine produced must be from Touriga Nacional grapes. Other grapes that are widely used in wine production in the Dão region include Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro Preto, Jaen and Encruzado.
Sheltered by the mountains of the Beiras region, the Dao valley benefits from a climate that is relatively mild. There is plenty of rainfall throughout the winter period but the summers are dry. Typically the vineyards of the region are located reasonably high up at altitudes of 200 – 900 metres. The altitude helps to cool the temperatures a little and this in turn helps the grapes to keep their natural acidity. The soil of the region is also helpful for the acidity of the grapes. Typically the soil is reasonably sandy so it allows for good drainage though sometimes there is clay and there is a high content of granite.
Of importance to the wine produced in the Dão region was a regulation imposed in the 1940s that meant that all wine was to be produced through co-operatives; this effectively closed down small-scale producers that may be offering a niche product. The legislation was intended to improve the quality and consistency of the wine but unfortunately it had the opposite effect as it left the grape growers with no incentive to produce quality grapes. The grapes were sold according to their weight so there was nothing to be gained from producing lower yields of higher quality. This regulation was lifted in 1979 when Portugal applied to be part of the European union and since then the quality of the wine has rocketed! The region may once have been considered as lacking in inspiration; now it is producing some of the most elegant, flavourful wines available.
With 80% of wine produced in the region being red, there’s no doubting that the conditions of the region favour red wine production. When drinking the good red wines you can expect a full-bodied, fruitful palette with excellent structure. That’s said, this is a wine region that is fast becoming one of the most exciting in the world. Already there are some incredible white wines coming out of the region and we can be sure that more will follow soon. Essentially the conditions of the Dão region enable producers to create wines of exceptional character and finesse; we’re certain that you will love them so have a look through the selection on our site and start planning a fantastic evening of wine appreciation!