The Dão

Birthplace of great wines with a classic profile and enormous longevity

A landscape with gentle slopes, between mountain massifs, the Dão became Portugal’s first demarcated region for still wines in 1908, in a context of huge upheaval in European viticulture - in the midst of the battle against phylloxera. Known as the Beira Alta Wine Region, in 1912, its geographical scope was extended to include 16 municipalities, which continue to be part of the demarcated region today. In 1933 it was divided into seven sub-regions.

The Dão and its micro-terroirs

An area with characteristics that are genuinely unique in the world

The current Dão Demarcated Wine Region, located in the Beira Alta region, in a mountainous enclave in the northern centre of Portugal, is a territory of 376,000 ha with unique characteristics in the world, marked by high mountains and the confluence of several rivers, where only 5% of the land is dedicated to vineyards and wine production, with Protected Designation of Origin.

Filled with ancient stories, mythical boulders, and magical forests, occupied by a hospitable and hardworking people and with several palaces and manor houses of Portuguese noble families, the Dão is a classic wine region. It has distinct lithological landscapes, with vineyards planted between 100 and 800 metres above sea level, most of which - more than 90% - are on rocky plateaus essentially of granitic origin, with good drainage and an average area per winegrower of 0.35 ha.

This unique geomorphology has given rise to different micro-terroirs, thereby contributing to an enormous diversity of wine profiles, based on red grape varieties (10,683 ha) and white grape varieties (2,613 ha).

The exceptional edaphoclimatic conditions of the Dão region

The Dão is a high-altitude region in the southern part of the North of Portugal, more precisely in the Beirão plateau, surrounded by mountain massifs that protect it from external influences. Bounded to the southwest by the Serra da Estrela (the highest mountains in mainland Portugal, almost 2,000 m above sea level) and the Serra do Açor, to the northwest by the Serra do Caramulo, to the northeast by the Serra da Nave, to the south by the Serra da Lousã and to the southwest by the Serra do Bussaco. The region is thereby defended both from mainland and maritime climatic influences, and from humid winds from the south. The individual character of the Dão region is due precisely to the nature and ruggedness of the terrain.

The ancient mountain ranges produce terroirs and micro-terroirs of great importance for vineyards. Despite a more temperate climate, it presents variations in the microclimate of the different wine sub-regions. The dominant influence is Mediterranean rather than Atlantic, with very high temperatures in the summer (easily exceeding 40º C) and temperatures below 0º C in the winter.

Endemic ancestral grape varieties: Touriga Nacional and Encruzado

Amongst the approximately 20 grape varieties recommended in the Dão region, that make a difference to the profiles of the Dão’s great wines, the most important are endemic varieties, also exported to other regions, such as Touriga Nacional and Encruzado. Touriga Nacional, an icon of Portuguese grape varieties, that has worldwide renown, originates in this region, in the village of Tourigo, in the sub-region of Besteiros, Tondela. It gives rise to a deep-coloured, full-bodied and well-structured red wine, rich in tannins and a concentrated and explosive flavour, rich in aromas of flowers and fruits. In turn, the Encruzado variety, also known as Salgueirinho, is almost exclusively cultivated in this region. Unlike other Portuguese grape varieties whose history dates back hundreds of years, Encruzado is relatively recent, with a documented history of about 70 years. It produces wines that are surprising by the elegance and complexity of their vegetable and floral aromas, revealing great freshness in the mouth with a long and persistent finish.