The historic Dao region was our destination on Friday as we headed south of Porto. Dao has a very different feel to the Douro Valley with lots of forest interspersed with vineyards. Various hill ranges give a natural protection from the elements and the region is very much on the up in terms of wine quality. We stopped first at Casa de Mouraz. This is a small, 12 hectare, organic and biodynamic estate run by husband and wife team – Sara Dionisio and Antonio Ribeiro. We took a lovely walk around a selection of their vineyards getting a deep insight into their philosophy and approach. Sara’s passion for her vines was totally engaging and it transmits into their wines. We did a rollercoaster tasting of many wines – field blends, contrasting ages of Encruzado whites, red blends and finishing off with their amazing Elfa. A bewildering array of local indigenous grapes were explored – and accompanied by some delicious local meats and cheese. A truly fabulous occasion.
A quick journey to the town of Mortagua ensued. Here we met Nuno Cancela de Abreu of Boas Quintas. I first came here in 2007 and it is a fascinating story of a family company that has grown rapidly over the past few years culminating in a spanking new winery that opened last September. After a quick tour we headed over to the historic family home where a tasting and lunch beckoned. The Boas Quintas wines are brilliantly made and reflect the terroir by using the local grapes – particularly the excellent Touriga Nacional and Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo) and whites Arinto and Encruzado. Lunch was amazing. Nuno’s wife Maria laid on a fabulous traditional lunch of pea soup, braised pork cheeks and a rich crème brulee. We sat in their beautiful high ceiling-ed dining room which oozed family history – a real privilege and another truly memorable occasion.