For dog lovers and for those who appreciate good Dão white

This recent arrival on the shelves at Apolónia jumped out at me for no other reason than the dog on the label seemed to be a spitting image of my own dog, a springer spaniel. However, it turns out that the dog, whose name is Tobias, is actually a Basset Hound belonging to the winemakers.

On closer inspection, I discovered that this is a Dão white made from the region’s iconic Encruzado grape by one of the leading winemakers in that part of Portugal, Álvaro Castro, and finally it is from the 2017 vintage, a good year in Dão. But, more importantly, it has had some time to age in the bottle, something that the Encruzado grape is very good at.

Although it was really the pooch on the label that swung it, the underlying facts convinced me that I could justify paying €21.95 for a bottle. This wine incidentally also claims to be “SO2 Free”, but this is not something I personally pay any attention to. In fact, I am of the opinion that producers should not be allowed to state that a wine is SO2 free but instead state that no added sulphites were used, the reason being that sulphites occur naturally during the fermentation process.

Sulphites, after all, are added to many other products such as canned fruits, fizzy drinks, etc, and should only be of concern to a consumer who actually suffers from a sulphite allergy.

Anyway, it is good marketing, and many consumers will convince themselves that it is more healthy to drink a wine that does not contain added sulphites.

There is, surprisingly, very little information available about this wine online and even less on the back label, but whilst I could not detect any oak on the nose, I suspect that it is partially aged in used oak and certainly fermented and aged on the lees. On the nose, there are soft citric and herbal notes with good texture in the mouth, rounded and smooth with great acidity and persistence. This is a high quality Encruzado, already drinking very well but with the potential to improve in the bottle for a good few years.

[email protected]