Mãos Encruzado

A sophisticated Douro white from the Dão Encruzado grape

Finding a different Portuguese wine to write about every week can be a challenge for me sometimes. I started writing this weekly column in 2012 and having missed no more than a few weeks whilst travelling over the years, I estimate to have penned some 200 wine reviews for this newspaper.

The great wine selection at Apolónia comes to my rescue most weeks but many of my most interesting discoveries have been made at Terroir, a small restaurant-cum-wine-shop in Carvoeiro which is conveniently within stumbling distance of my home.

As I have said here before, Terroir can always be counted on to uncover small and interesting producers whose wines hardly ever make their way to supermarket shelves. One such discovery I made earlier this year was the Mãos label, a relatively new project in the Douro run by four brothers who, between them, own seven small quintas in the upper Douro.

Their premium label is Mãos – meaning hands and playing on the word “irmãos” (brothers). They produce a few very interesting wines under this label, amongst them this white varietal from the Encruzado grape, which is of course the best known white grape of the Dão region further south.

This is a small production of just 1,900 bottles and, priced at €19 in the Terroir wine shop, represents very good value for money.

Fermented and aged on the lees in stainless steel, the wine has a complexity on the nose that belies the fact no oak was used in the ageing. Light straw yellow in colour, there are grassy and ripe white fruit notes on the nose. In the mouth the wine is full and rounded with great acidity and a lovely clean mineral finish. This is very much a food wine, ideal to enjoy with fully flavoured fish dishes such as a nice bacalhau (codfish) and equally well suited to white meats and cheese.

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]