View from the top of the mountains of the Serra da Estrela natural park, Star Mountain Range, glacier valley and mountain landscape
Many of the best Dão wines come from vineyards at considerable altitude in the foothills of the Serra de Estrela mountains

Wonderful wines from Dão

Back in the 80s and early 90s, Dão was probably the most famous of all Portugal’s regions for table wine. Today’s most highly regarded region, the Douro, just a little further north, was still known mostly for fortified port wine back then and the Alentejo was only just starting to make a name for itself.

Other Portuguese regions such as Lisbon and Bairrada were almost unheard of, especially by foreign consumers. But Dão fell out of fashion as it was overtaken in terms of new investment, and it was not until quite recently that it has started to catch up.

For me though, it has long been one of my favourite Portuguese wine regions for its elegant and medium-to-full-bodied reds and outstanding whites of great longevity made from the Encruzado grape.

The region includes the western foothills of the Serra da Estrela mountains where many high-altitude vineyards produce some of the best wines.

Dão is rapidly reemerging as one the country’s top wine regions, but it is still difficult to find more than a few labels on most restaurant wine lists. However, it is worth looking out for Dão in good wine shops.

Here are some of my current favourites, all available at Apolónia Supermarkets in the Algarve.

wine bottles


The M.O.B. label stands for Moreira, Olazabal and Ferreira, three great names in Portuguese winemaking who got together to launch a wine project in the Dão region. The bottle shown here, under the Senna label, is their premium red, costing €27.95, made from a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Jaen grapes. This is a wine of seductive complexity, floral and berry fruit notes on the nose, medium bodied with great freshness in the mouth. Costing considerably less is M.O.B. Lote 3 at around €10, representing outstanding value for money.

Bella Sauvignon Blanc

The Bella winery is part of Ideal Drinks, the winemaking project of a very wealthy Portuguese businessman who sold his Swiss watch brand some years ago and started investing heavily in Portugal, specifically in wine.

I reviewed the range of Bella wines in these pages recently; this white, along with a red and a rosé, both from the Pinot Noir grape. They are all excellent, but the Sauvignon Blanc stands out as what is possibly the best Portuguese Sauvignon Blanc on the market with aromas of freshly-cut grass and honey melon on the nose. Not cheap at around €20 but worth every cent.

Quintas das Marias Encruzado

One of many excellent Dão whites made from the Encruzado grape. Encruzado is to Dão what Chardonnay is to Burgundy, producing everything from fresh and zesty everyday whites to sophisticated oaked wines of body and character. In fact, good Encruzado is often compared by sommeliers here in Portugal to Chablis and even to Meursault. Quinta das Marias is the project of the Eckert family from Germany, who bought a farm near Viseu in the early 90s. This is their unoaked version of Encruzado, a wine that is aged on the fine lees for four months, with batonnage adding complexity and some body. White fruit and mineral notes predominate on the nose with the solid acidity that is typical of Encruzado adding to great freshness in the mouth. A true expression of the variety. Priced at €14.49.

Taboadella Alfrocheiro

A fairly recent project on a very old farm that dates back to Roman times and takes its name from nearby Roman ruins. The Taboadella winery produces some outstanding blends but is perhaps best known for its varietal wines championing the traditional Dão grapes such as this Alfrocheiro. Rubi red in colour, black berry fruits come to the front along with pine and hints of spice; very well integrated oak. The wine is medium-to-full-bodied in the mouth with well-rounded tannins and a smooth, dry finish. Priced at €18.95.

By Patrick Stuart

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